F-6 Aircraft of Pakistan Air Force
Gp Capt SM HALI remembers the Chinese F-6 aircraft in the PAF.
mach 1.4 F-6 Day Fighter is an export designation of the Chinese-built J-6
(Fighter aircraft 6) which was originally designed as MiG-19 in the USSR,
its Soviet prototype having flown for the first time in September, 1953.
after the 1965 Indo-Pak War, USA placed an embargo on the supply of
weapons to both countries. Pakistani defence planners selected the F-6
aircraft as an addition to the PAF inventory. Thus its induction commenced
on 30 December, 1965. Initially 72 aircraft were procured with subsequent
additions bringing the total to 253 aircraft. At its peak, the F-6
aircraft equipped ten Fighter Squadrons of Pakistan Air Force.
pilots have now flown this aircraft for more than thirty-four years. They
mastered this twin engined pack of roaring power in a considerably short
time. On 09 March, 1968, PAF F-6s participated in an impressive Fire-Power
display at the Jamrud Firing Range near Peshawar organised for the
visiting Iranian monarch, Raza Shah Pahelvi. In 1969, PAF formed an
aerobatics team named ‘Rattlers’. The team comprised four F-6 aircraft
painted black. On 14 March, 1969, the team performed formation aerobatics
in a thrilling display of speed control and co-ordination in an air
display organized for the visiting Soviet Minister of Defence, Marshal
the PAF pilots gained expertise on this thrilling but difficult and
demanding weapon system, PAF’s engineers and technicians carried out a
number of indigenous modifications and improvements to make the F-6 more
effective and enhance its roles of air superiority and ground attack. The
major upgrading and innovative modifications include the provision of
western avionics, Martin and Baker ejection seats, the AIM-9 Sidewinder
air-to-air missile, French 68 mm rockets, additional under wing tanks and
under-belly ‘Gondola’ fuel tanks and a special ground-power unit for
instantly starting its twin engines to shorten ‘scramble’ time.
expertise on the F-6 was fully tested during the 1971 Indo-Pak War. Its
three F-6 squadrons, Nos 11, 23 and 25 gave an excellent account of
themselves: flying 945 sorties comprising 735 hours and destroying
numerous enemy tanks, armoured cars and field guns during the close
support missions. In air combat, F-6 pilots shot down eight Indian Air
Force fighter aircraft including a superior MiG-21 and damaged five.
04 December, Flight Lieutenant Javed Latif of No 23 Squadron shot down an
SU-7 while it was attacking the PAF airfield at Risalewala. Its pilot
Flight Lieutenant Harvinder Singh was killed in action. On 04 December,
Flying Officer Qazi Javed of No 25 Squadron shot down an Indian Hunter
when it came to attack PAF airfield at Mianwali. Its pilot Flight
Lieutenant Vidya Dhar Shankar was also killed in action.
05 December, Wing Commander Saad A Hatmi, the Officer Commanding of No 25
Squadron and his Number two, Flight Lieutenant Shahid Raza chased two IAF
Hunters and shot them down close to Sakesar. Their pilots Flight
Lieutenants G.S. Rai and K.L. Malkani were both killed in action.
07 December, Flight Lieutenant Atiq Sufi of No 11 Squadron shot down an
IAF SU-7 near the battle front at Samba. Its pilot Flight Lieutenant Jiwa
Singh was killed in action.
08 December, Wing Commander S. M. Hashmi, Officer Commanding of No 23
Squadron shot down two IAF SU-7s which were attacking Risalewala airfield.
14 December, Flight Lieutenant Aamer A Sharif of No 11 Squadron engaged a
superior IAF MiG-21 and after a classic battle, shot it down near Niankot.
three squadrons received battle honours for the 1971 War, while three F-6
pilots were awarded gallantry medals.
F-6 aircraft have flown more than 400,000 hours. The Pakistan Aeronautical
Complex Kamra’s F-6 Rebuild Factory, which was inaugurated in 1980, has
played a major role in giving the F-6 aircraft a new lease of life by
completely over-hauling it.
F-6 aircraft are in the twilight of their service in PAF but they still
compete actively with the more modern weapons systems. PAF is presently
maintaining two Squadrons: No 17 and 23 with F-6s which are active in
guarding the aerial frontiers of PAF.