ISLAMABAD (MAMOSA Report): Pakistan Air Force celebrated on Monday the induction of indigenously-manufactured JF-17 aircraft in the No. 2 Squadron (Minhas), replacing some of the oldest F-7Ps in its inventory.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, speaking at the ceremony at PAF Base, Masroor, said: “Induction of JF-17 in No. 2 Squadron will help create the much-needed strategic balance.”
The No. 2 Squadron, which started as fighter conversion unit in 1956, and later became the Air Superiority Squadron following the induction of F-7Ps, has now become a multi-role squadron after getting the JF-17s.
The Squadron is also entrusted with the task of safeguarding maritime boundaries and protecting sea lines of communication in coordination with the navy.
The JF-17, which has beyond-visual range attack capability and has been equipped with two C-802A anti-ship cruise missiles, is believed by analysts to be a good choice for the maritime strike role.
This week Pakistan Navy also test fired the “Zarb” surface-to-sea missile and formally inducted it into its Navy defense system, aimed at thwarting any possible aggression by adversaries from the Arabian sea.
Pakistan is anticipating fresh security challenges as it is hosting China’s $46 billion Economic Corridor which will not only connect its western province of Xinjiang to the Middle East, Africa and Europe but cut its oil import sea route to almost 2400km from the present 12,000km via the South China Sea.
Pakistan’s deep sea port in Gwadar — the gateway for CPEC, is located in the southwestern province of Balochistan which has a very long coastline along the Arabian sea.
It has thus allocated a special Marine Battalion at the port for surveillance. These marines will safeguard sea links used for communication and provide protection to trade ships routing in and out of the port in the near future.
With the induction of JF-17 in the No. 2 squadron now complete, PAF boasts operating four JF-17 squadrons. The other three squadrons having JF-17 aircraft are No. 26 (Black Spiders) Peshawar, No. 16 (Black Panthers) Kamra and Combat Commanders School Sargodha.