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PAF Heroes

Below is a list of some brave men of PAF who fought for their country courageously and brought glory to their service. Although it mentions PAF pilots only but the successful engagements they had were made possible only by the impressive team work of aeronautical engineers, radar controllers and other ground crew.
This list is not complete and I have mentioned very few of the significant historical events in PAF history that are associated with them. Note that the officer ranks mentioned here were at the time of event.


(Late) Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas

Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas is the recipient of Nishan-i-Haider, Pakistan's highest military award.
On the morning of Friday, 20 August 71, Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas aged 20, a pilot still under training, was in the front seat of jet trainer, taxiing out for take off. An instructor pilot from the same unit forced his way into the rear cockpit, seized control of the aircraft and having taken off, headed the aircraft towards India. With just 40 miles of Pakistan territory remaining, Minhas had only one course open to him to prevent his aircraft from entering India. Without hesitation and living up to the highest traditions of the Pakistan Air Force, Rashid Minhas tried to regain control of his aircraft, but finding this to be impossible in the face of the superior skill and experience of his instructor, forced the aircraft to crash at a point 32 miles from the Indian border. In doing so, Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas deliberately made the supreme sacrifice for the honour of Pakistan and the service to which he belonged. For this act of heroism above and beyond the call of duty, the President of Pakistan awarded Nishan-i-Haider to Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas.


(Late) Sqn. Ldr. Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui

Sqn. Ldr. S. A. Rafiqui shot down 3 Indian planes (2 Vampires and 1 Hunter) in the war of 1965.
On 6th September, 1965, Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui led a formation of three F-86 aircraft on a strike against Halwara airfield. On the way back, the formation was intercepted by about ten Hunter aircraft out of which Squadron Leader Rafiqui accounted for one in the first few seconds. Soon after, his guns jammed due to a defect and stopped firing upon which he refused to leave the battle area and ordered his No. 2 to take over as leader and continue the engagement with the enemy. In the process, his aircraft was shot down and he was killed but not without his action enabling his formation to shoot down three more Hunter aircraft. Squadron Leader Rafiqui's conduct was clearly beyond the call of duty and conformed to the highest tradition of leadership and bravery in battle against overwhelming odds. For this and his earlier exploits, he is posthumously awarded Hilal-i-Juraat.


Sqn. Ldr. Muhammad Mahmood Alam

M. M. Alam is so far the top scorer fighter pilot of PAF. In the war of 1965, he shot down 9 Indian planes (5 in one sortie) and damaged another 2.
On 6th September, 1965, during an aerial combat over enemy territory, Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam in an F-86 Sabre Jet, shot down two enemy Hunter aircraft and damaged three others. For the exceptional flying skill and valor displayed by Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam, he was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat. On 7th September, 1965, Squadron Leader Alam destroyed five more enemy Hunter aircrafts in less than a minute , which remains a record till today. Overall he had nine kills and two damages to his credit. For the exceptional flying skill and valour shown by him in pressing home his attacks in aerial combats with the enemy, Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam is awarded a bar to his Sitara-i-Juraat.


Flt. Lt. Khalid Mehmood

Flt. Lt. Khalid Mehmood of No. 14 Squardon (PAF Minhas) shot down 3 Afghan fighters (2 MiG-23s and 1 Su-22) while flying in an F-16.
His first kill was on September 12, 1988 when he with his No. 2 successfully engaged 6 MiG-23 aircraft of Afghan airforce on a bombing mission inside the Pakistan territory and managed to shot down 2 of them. His third kill came just after 3 weeks when on November 03, 1988, he challenged a formation of 3 Afghan Su-22s near Kohat and after a short dogfight, shot down one of the planes. The entire incident was observed from the ground by personnel of the Pakistan Army and by Phatan tribesmen. The wreckage of the Afghan Su-22 fell 10 NM from Thal on the bank of river Kurram. The picture on the left shows Flt. Lt. Khalid being presented a Kalashinkov rifle by Maj. Gen. Ghazi-ud-din on behalf of tribesmen.


(Late) Sqn. Ldr. Abdul Hameed Qadri

Sqn. Ldr. Qadri of No. 9 Squardon (PAF Sargodha) shot down 2 Afghan Su-22s on May 17, 1986. While on a CAP (Combat Air Patrol) with his No. 2, he was directed by the radar controller to intercept 4 enemy planes violating Pakistani air space near Parachinar. The pilots took the appropriate offensive position and after visually identifying the targets, Sqn. Ldr. Qadri shot down 2 of them, one with a AIM-9L sidewinder and the other with guns. He did an outstanding job of engaging the targets, maintaining excellent situation awareness, and remaining extremely cool in trying conditions. The PAF awarded Sitara-i-Basalat to Squadron Leader Hameen Qadri. He is seen in the picture on the left beside the wing of SU-22.
Sqn. Ldr. Qadri also commanded the F-6 and F-7P squardons of CCS (Combat Commanders School, PAF Sargodha) in 1993-94 and then became Officer Commanding CCS.

PAF suffered yet another loss on July 20, 2002 when A. H. Qadri (then Air Commodore and Base Commander PAF Minhas-Kamra) died in an air crash while flying a F-7P aircraft.


(Late) Wg. Cmdr. Abdul Razak

Wing Commander Razak successfully intercepted and shot down an Afghan AN-26 in 1987 near Miranshah.

On March 30, 1987, after taking off from PAF Minhas in an F-16, Wing Commander Abdul Razzak and his No. 2, Squadron Leader Sikander Hayat were vectored towards two slow speed intruders that the controller visualized to be electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft heading towards a radar position at Parachinar. He had no hesitation in the existing wartime conditions, to permit the F-16s to shoot down the military transport aircraft, which though unarmed was violating Pakistan air space. After identifying the one enemy plane as an AN-26 tranport plane, both Wg. Cmdr. Razak and Sqn. Ldr. Hayat launched their heat-seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. Both the two missiles connected and the enemy aircraft crashed on snow-clad mountains below. He did an outstanding job of remaining cool and skillful during the intercept.

Tragically, A. Razaq (while at the rank of Air Vice Marshal) died in a plane crash on February 20, 2003 near Kohat Air Base. Other victims of the crash included the chief of air staff (Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir) and 15 other airforce officers.


Sqn. Ldr. Badar-ul-Islam

Sqn. Ldr. Badar shot down an Afghan Su-22 in 1987 while serving with No. 14 Squardon (PAF Minhas). On April 16, 1987 he took-off in an F-16 at 0630 hours with his No. 2 Sqn. Ldr. Pervaiz Murwat and headed towards the CAP area near Thal. After three or four orbits, the radar reported some activity well withen the Pakistani border and vectored the formation towards the intruders. The leader quickly got his No. 2 in shooter cover position and the two headed west in full burners. The leader picked up four blips on his radar scope , which was confirmed by the radar controller. At a distance of about 7 NM, the leader visually picked them up. Since it was early morning, with the sun behind him, the leader could easily see all four shining aircraft. He unleashed the Sidewinder missile at one of the aircraft and in a couple of seconds, there was a big red flash around the aircraft. It started to spiral towards the ground in a left-hand turn. They then returned to base. After examining all the evidence the PAF confirmed the kill.


Tail of SU-25 shot down by Sqn. Ldr. Athar on August 4, 1988.

Sqn. Ldr. Athar Bukhari

Sqn. Ldr. Athar Bukhari of No. 14 Squardon (PAF Minhas) became the first PAF pilot to shoot down a Russian aircraft. On August 04, 1988, Sqn. Ldr. Bukhari was asked to patrol near Bannu at a height of 10,000 ft. He was vectored on a heading of 300 degrees, and the controller reported the target 30 degree left, 15 NM. The contact was made and the GCI controller clearly told Bukhari to go ahead and shoot the target. The missile was launched from about 2.5 NM from the target which was soon followed by a ball of fire. Descending to 5,000 feet, and dispensing chaff and flares, the pilot then took a safe passage home.

The wreckage of the shot down aircraft was located, but not the pilot. The tribal people caught him the next evening and handed him over to the authorities. His name was Colonel Alexander Rutskoi who later became the Vice President of the Russian Federation. Both the pilot and the controller displayed calm professional competence in shooting down the first Soviet-piloted Su-25 aircraft at night. It was an excellent example of pilot-controller teamwork.