SARGODHA: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif said on Wednesday that the country was prepared for any possible foreign aggression during the induction ceremony of a batch of F-16 fighter jets into the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)s Squadron Number 19 held in the 'City of Eagles'.
Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif was the chief guest of the induction ceremony and was greeted upon his arrival at the ceremony by Chief of the Air Staff Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt.
The inducted aircraft were purchased at a minimal price from Royal Jordanian Air Force after series of negotiations were held between concerned ministries and concerted efforts were made by Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt.
A contingent of Squadron Number 19 presented the general salute to the chief guest followed by the parade.
Gen Raheel Sharif transferred the Squadron flag to new commander and as per tradition of Pakistan Air Force.
Newly inducted F-16s of Squadron Number 19 also presented a fly past.
Following the guard of honour, the chief guest was given a briefing over the new fighter jets.
The army chief congratulated the PAF over its acquisition of modern fighter jets and said the move had increased the fighting capability of the air force.
"Pakistan army would extend full cooperation to PAF whenever needed" Gen Raheel Sharif said while speaking on the occasion, adding that despite the challenges faced any foreign aggression would be counteracted.
Squadron Number 19, “Sherdils”, was raised in 1958 at PAF Base Mauripur with 12 American origin F-86F Sabre aircraft.
In October, 1964 the squadron shifted to Peshawar.
The squadron valiantly participated in 1965 war, in which it had flown 730 hours in 571 sorties without losing a single aircraft or a pilot.
During the war, Squadron Number 19 had the unrivaled distinction of carrying out the first successful close air support mission at Wagah, and famous air strike at Pathankot airfield.
The squadron flew over 630 operational missions and destroyed 15 Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft on the ground.
Among the PAF squadrons, Number 19 also destroyed the highest number of Indian tanks and armoured vehicles.
It also has the honour of receiving six Sitara-e-Jurat.
In 1990, the squadron was equipped with Chinese F-7P interceptor aircrafts and was converted into an Operational Conversion Unit in July 1991.
Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt has also commanded the Squadron with the onerous responsibility of setting up the new conversion unit.