Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has said that the country was prepared for any possible foreign aggression, adding that Pakistan army would extend full cooperation to PAF whenever needed. He said army would be present at just one phone call away from Pakistan Air force for extending any kind of cooperation in any difficulty.
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’ on Wednesday the Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif as chief guest of the ceremony was greeted upon his arrival by Chief of the Air Staff Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt.
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.
In his address the army chief hailed operational and training capabilities of PAF saying that “this day will be remembered as landmark in history and this inductment will further strengthen the historic terms of Pakistan and Jordan. He said the fighter jets will help Pakistan’s armed forces effectively fight the war against terrorism and safeguard territorial integrity of the country.
Raheel Sharif said that newly re-equipped inducted F-16 Jets will enhance the capability of Pakistan Air Force adding that PAF has always fulfilled people s expectations. The Army Chief added that PAF and Pak Army will fight side by side for the defense of the country.
He said that Pakistan Army will combat any challenge along with PAF.
He said role of Mushaf Airbase is immensely important in the country’s defense. Lauding the cooperation of Royal Jordanian Air Force and the Kingdom of Jordan, the Army Chief said this initiative would strengthen the existing historic bonds between the two countries.
Addressing the function, the Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt said that the induction of the F-16 jet fighters into PAF will enable it to cope with external and internal challenges more effectively. He thanked the Jordanian Air Force for the provision of F-16 jet fighters. He said PAF is ready to confront any foreign aggression. He said that the Pakistan Air Force with the support of sister organisaitons would protect the territorial integrity of the country against any aggression at all costs.
Tahir Rafique Butt thanked the prime minister for giving go ahead to complete this project despite financial constraints.Earlier, a smartly turned out contingent of 19th Squadron presented the general salute to the chief guest followed by parade.
The Chief Guest transferred the Squadron flag to the new commander. As per tradition newly inducted F-16s presented a fly past followed by a stunning aerial display.
It is worthy to note, that the aircrafts have been purchased at a minimal price from Royal Jordanian Air Force after series of negotiations held between concerned ministries and the concerted efforts of Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt.
Number 19 Squadron “Sherdils” was raised in 1958 at PAF Base Mauripur with 12 American origin F-86F Sabre Aircraft. During 1965 war, Number 19 Squadron, apart from other victories, has the unrivalled distinction of carrying out the first successful close air support mission at Wagha, and famous air strike at Pathankot airfield. It also has the honour of having six Sitara-e-Jurat. In 1990, the Squadron was equipped with Pakistan s newly acquired Chinese F-7P interceptor aircraft and was converted into an Operational Conversion Unit in July 1991.
The current Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt also commanded the Squadron with the onerous responsibility of setting up the new conversion unit. The unit has strengthened the defence of motherland by graduating 652 fighter pilots till date. 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.
In 1990, the squadron was equipped with Chinese F-7P interceptor aircrafts and was converted into an Operational Conversion Unit in July 1991. Following the guard of honour, the chief guest was given a briefing over the new fighter jets.