ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Air Force (PAF) 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.

PAF hailed the occasion as “a major milestone towards self-reliance and enhancement of operational capability”.

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 replaced F-7Ps at the No.2 Squadron served there from Aug 1990 till Aug 2015, when the induction of the new fighter aircraft was commenced. With the induction 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.

The No. 2 Squadron, which started as fighter conversion unit in 1956, and later became the Air Superiority Squadron following the induction of the F-7Ps, has now become a multi-role squadron after getting the JF-17s.

It 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.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2016

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