Pakistan Air Force | PAF

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is appreciated as a “powerful defence element of the country’s defence.” Pakistan Air Force Academy was established in 1947.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is the aerial warfare branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces, responsible for the defence of Pakistan from aerial attacks, as well as providing support to the Pakistan Army and Navy when they are in need, and for strategic airlift to Pakistan at certain times throughout the year.

The PAF is expected to have 70,000 active-duty personnel and operate at least 594 aircraft by 2021, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The Pakistan Air Force has played a prominent role in the Pakistani military’s operations and relief efforts since its establishment.

The PAF has been part of various combat operations since its establishment in 1947. A civilian Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan’s Armed Forces is appointed by the Constitution of Pakistan according to Article 243. According to the Constitution, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) is a four-star commissioned air officer who is appointed by the President after the Prime Minister consults and confirms him.

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The title “Royal” was added in 1947 but dropped when Pakistan became the Islamic Republic in 1956.

Ensign of the Pakistan Air Force

The PAF is the largest in the Islamic world and the seventh-largest air force. The PAF approximately has 943 combat fighter jets and over 200 trainers, communication, helicopter, transport, and force-multiplier aircraft.

Air Headquarters (AHQ) is the single command structure based at Rawalpindi Cantt near the Joint Staff HQ.

The Pakistan Air Force is commanded by the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), statute a Four-Star Air Chief Marshal, selected by the President, with the Prime Minister’s consultation and approval. Air Mujahid Anwar Khan is the current CAS.

Its military importance and significance in public opinion add to the PAF’s supremacy over the other main service branches.

In many major events in Pakistan’s history, the Air Force has played an important, influential, and vital role in the nation’s defence and national security and encouraged a sense of security in civil society.

The PAF officially uses the slogan: “Second to None; fully abreast with the requisite will and mechanism to live by its standards in the coming millennium and beyond.”

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Special forces

Pakistan’s Special Services Wing (SSW) consists of its elite fighters in special operations. The Special Service Wing was formed following the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and was heavily influenced by the United States Air Force’s Special Tactics Squadrons.

It also borrowed some elements from the United States Army Rangers. It continued to operate until after the Kargil War when the Pakistani Military showed little interest in it. Around 1,200 troops are currently in the SSW, which has been largely revived and restructured for active service in late 1999.

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Women in the Pakistan Air Force

There were women in Pakistan’s armed forces during its early history, although only in non-combat roles. Many women served in various branches of the military, such as the medical corps (as nurses or in other similar jobs).

Although Muhammad Ali Jinnah held contradictory views on the issue when Pakistan gained freedom, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) remained an exclusively male force throughout much of its history, and women (and boys under 18) were prohibited from serving in combat. Women are now able to enroll in the PAF Academy in Risalpur’s aerospace engineering courses and other programs as well, including fighter pilot training.

In addition, women are not allowed to have physical or academic standards lowered to favor them, and if they do not perform as well as their male counterparts they are removed from the course. However, the extent to which this rule is enforced is unknown.

PAF structure maintains a level of separateness between the genders in accordance with traditional values. In early morning parades, for example, men and women march together, but males and females separate during some training exercises.

A psychologist and the officer who oversaw the first female cadets in the PAF, Squadron Leader Shazia Ahmed, says that this seems to improve the self-esteem of women.

Several female PAF Academy batch members were reported in 2005 to be in two batches within the academy’s flying wings, and many more in the engineering and aerospace wings.

Candidate Saba Khan from Quetta, Balochistan, saw an advertisement in the newspaper about the PAF’s need for female cadets and applied. Among the first four women who passed their first stages of learning to fly in light aircraft powered by propellers, she then transitioned to more advanced jet-powered training aircraft.

Four women fighter pilots were officially inducted into the PAF in March 2006, as part of a batch of 34 pilots. PAF Academy – Risalpur pilots completed three years of training before graduating and receiving their flying badges.

As then-vice-chief of the Pakistan Army, General Ahsan Saleem Hayat presented certificates of honor to the successful cadets, recognizing that the Pakistan Air Force had introduced women to combat units for the first time in Pakistan. The best academic achievement award went to Flying Officer Nadia Gul. Saira Batool, Mariam Khalil, and Saba Khan, a Cadet, graduated from the course as well.

PAF Academy – Risalpur, in September 2006, graduated the second batch of pilots from the 117th General Duty Pilot Course, including three women pilots. Saira Amin became the first female pilot ever to receive the Sword of Honour for best all-around performance. Additionally, Saira Amin was awarded the Asghar Hussain Trophy for her outstanding academic contributions.

Seven female pilots qualified for PAF’s operational fighter pilot program in September 2009, becoming the first female combat pilots in PAF history. The commanding officer stated that if women are not “suitable as their male counterparts,” they will not be allowed to fly. The commanding officer also noted that some women do not wear the hijab, but it is an exception to uniform standards if the woman wishes to do so.

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  • Air Headquarters (AHQ), Islamabad


  • Northern Air Command (NAC), Peshawar
  • Central Air Command (CAC), Lahore
  • Southern Air Command (SAC), Karachi
  • Air Defence Command (ADC), Rawalpindi
  • Air Force Strategic Command (AFSC), Islamabad

Training Establishments

  • Pakistan Air Force Academy, Risalpur
  • Combat Commanders’ School (CCS), Sargodha
  • PAF Airpower Centre of Excellence (PAF ACE), Sargodha
  • PAF Air War College, Karachi

Weapons Production Establishments

  • Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra
  • Air Weapons Complex (AWC), Kamra

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There are 21 bases in the Philippine Air Force; 13 are flying bases, and 8 are non-flying bases. Flight bases are places where planes fly, either in peacetime or during wartime; while non-flying bases are for training, administration, maintenance, air defence operations, or mission support.

Flying bases

  • PAF Base Mushaf (Sargodha)
  • PAF Base Bholari (Bholari)
  • PAF Base Masroor (Karachi)
  • PAF Base Rafiqui (Shorkot)
  • PAF Base Peshawar (Peshawar)
  • PAF Base Murid (Chakwal)
  • PAF Base Samungli (Quetta)
  • PAF Base M.M. Alam (Mianwali)
  • PAF Base Minhas (Kamra)
  • PAF Base Nur Khan (Rawalpindi)
  • PAF Base Faisal (Karachi)
  • PAF Base Risalpur (Pakistan Air Force Academy) (Risalpur)
  • PAF Base Shahbaz (Jacobabad)

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Non-flying bases

  • PAF Base Korangi Creek (Karachi)
  • PAF Base Malir (Karachi)
  • PAF Base Lower Topa (Murree)
  • PAF Base Kallar Kahar (Kallar Kahar)
  • PAF Base Kohat (Kohat)
  • PAF Base Lahore (Lahore)
  • PAF Base Sakesar (Sakesar)
  • PAF Base Kalabagh (Nathia Gali)

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