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Soviet Air confrontations with Pakistan Air Force, during Soviet-Afghan War.


May 3, 2009
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Soviet Air confrontations with Pakistan Air Force during Soviet-Afghan War.


In late December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. In the context of the Cold War, this move initially caused a considerable surprise and excitement in the West, as it was seen as an indirect threat for the situation in the Persian Gulf, especially after the US lost their most important ally in the area, the Shah of Iran, which was overthrown in February of the same year. Immediately afterward, however, except for diplomatic protests, no direct actions were undertaken by Western powers against the Soviet Union, and it was on the Afghan people to organize a resistance against the aggressor. Initially, Pakistani military was very concerned about the Soviet move, but subsequent analysis of the deployments of the Soviet forces showed, that there was no imminent threat to Pakistan.

Instead, for the first years of the war in Afghanistan, Soviets were predominantly engaged in establishing bases and keeping urban areas under control. A total of four units of the V-VS (Voenoe Vazdushny Sily - Air Force), one each equipped with MiG-21s and Mi-24s, as well as two with Mi-8s, were put under direct command of the 40th Soviet Army (HQ at Termez, in Turkmenistan Soviet Republic).

Their pilots haven’t got a permission even to close less than 15 km to the Pakistani border. Instead, Soviets in Afghanistan were initially concerned by a possible Iranian intervention and this was also a reason for them deploying strong air defence units in the area. However, after establishing their positions, they placed their forces in defensive and offered the rebels lots of time and a brilliant chance to start a serious insurgency.

Very soon, it became clear to Pakistan, that there was no conventional military threat for them from the USSR and that they could organize support for Mujaheddin without any fear of serious repercussions. Dozens of DRAAF and Soviet An-24s, An-26s, and An-32s flew every day over the dangerous skies of Afghanistan. Their supply-flights were instrumental for the survival of several government garrisons around the country.

From late 1986 they started to suffer heavily from the FIM-92A Stingers delivered to the Mujaheddin from the USA via Pakistan. From early 1981 onward, however, the number of flying units detached to the 40th Soviet Army was increased, and their aircraft and helicopters started patrolling along - or even behind - Pakistani borders.

Initially, reconnaissance operations were flown, but very soon first attacks against camps for Afghani refugees on Pakistani soil were undertaken, as these were places where Mujaheddin used to pull back for rest and training, and where Pakistani military services recruited fighters for the war in Afghanistan. Immediately, Pakistan turned to the USA with a request for better equipment, including new aircraft (foremost A-7 Corsair), SAMs, radars, as well as items for ECM and ELINT.

Pentagon responded by an offer for F-5E Tiger II and A-10A Thunderbolt II, but this was turned down, as the Pakistanis felt, that such low technology was not enough for them to counter the threat. At the time, namely, the PAF was equipped foremost with Chinese and French types, such like the simple F-6 interceptors and Mirage III/5s, and neither the F-5E nor A-10A could offer any significant increase in its capabilities. By late 1981, the situation changed in so far, that the Pakistani military services were directly involved in organizing, supporting and „managing“ the Afghan Mujaheddin, and subsequently the USA decided to join this effort more intensively as well. Initially, the US offered support in arms and supplies for Mujaheddin, but very fast, but, after aircraft of the V-VS started to operate over the Pakistani border more aggressively, a decision has been brought, to re-supply the PAF with F-16s.

In December 1981, a letter of agreement between Pakistan and the USA was signed, preparing the way for the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) purchasing 40 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters. The USA offered 32 F-16As and eight F-16Bs, but the Pakistanis then changed the order to 28 F-16As and 12 F-16Bs (all to Block 15 standard), as the PAF was concerned about the possible needs to conduct all of its training for the type at home in the future. By October 1982, first two F-16As and four F-16Bs were ready for delivery to their new owners, while the first group of Pakistani pilots was finishing its training with the 421st TFS, at Hill AFB, in Utah. The jets were flown to MacDill AFB, Florida and then over Atlantic, via Azores to Dhahran, in Saudi Arabia. There, American pilots were replaced by Pakistani, which delivered them to Pakistan.

First Careful Engagements

While the acquisition of new aircraft was underway, the PAF and the Pakistani Army were already engaged organizing their positions along the Afghani border, which was a particularly problematic task, considering the rugged terrain and problematic movements of units and supplies.It took some time until proper sites were selected and a satisfactory net of radar stations as well as detection and observation posts, needed for gaining a better control of the airspace, was established. Finally, two early warning radar stations, #4084 and #4102, were posted at Landikotal and Aravali, additional, belonging to the 483 Squadron, were deployed in the area between Swat and Miranshah, together with several mobile low-level radars and units of mobile observers. These stations, together with two radars, positioned near Machlak and Khojal, were not only to monitor movements of Soviet and Afghani aircraft, but also to guide PAF interceptors, forward deployed at Peshawar and Samungli air bases.

The Peshawar AB initially housed F-6s of the 15th Squadron, which were deployed there already in late 1979. During the following years, both units flew numerous - but not very intensive - CAPs. However, as at the time the PAF still have had problems with detecting and following Soviet and Afghani aircraft (but also because most incursions into the Pakistani airspace went deeper than two or three kilometers, while the Pakistani high command was very careful not to provoke Soviets). They operated under very stringent rules of engagement. According to Pakistani reports between 1981 and 1986 PAF pilots never got a permission to engage or fire at intruders, but only to escort them out of the Pakistani airspace. Actually, in most cases, PAF F-6s hardly even came close to their opponents: namely, although having a fair thrust to weight ratio and being more maneuverable, F-6s were slower than most of the types they encountered.

Nonetheless, on 1 March 1980, two F-6s intercepted a Russian Il-76 and escorted it back into Afghani airspace. The 15th Squadron was soon followed by the 23rd Sqn, which was initially based at Samungli. In May 1983, the 23rd Sqn was replaced by 17th Sqn, and in October 1984 the 26th Squadron arrived, also equipped with F-6s. By that time, the PAF control of the airspace was much better, but the Soviets and Afghanis were also much more aggressive, and numerous confrontations - albeit without any firings - followed.

All these units simultaneously provided also detachments to Minhas/Kamra AB, but the situation still remained so, that the PAF higher command was reluctant to permit its units to engage either Soviet or Afghani aircraft. Due to the problems with detection and early warning over such rugged terrain as along the border with Afghanistan, at the time, the PAF was not able even to timely intercept DRAAF aircraft, flown to Pakistan by defecting Afghani pilots. In such cases, like on 20 November 1983, when a DRAAF Su-22 crash-landed at Dal Bandin AB, or on 25 March 1984, when one MiG-17 crash-landed at Mushcab AB, or on 16 July 1984, when an Afghani crew landed their Mi-25 behind the Pakistani border, near Miranshah, PAF interceptors were nowhere nearby. A PAF F-16A 84711 during a break between two sorties: this highly agile fighter proved superior to anything the V-VS and the DRAAF flew at the time. The aggressive PAF pilots, however, sometimes went too far, and in one of their interceptions of Soviet MiG-23s ended with an errant Sidewinder fired by the Pakistani flight-leader ended up the tail-pipe of his wingman.

The Arrival of Mirages and F-16s

The situation changed during November 1985 considerably, as - meanwhile - the war in Afghanistan reached its peak with several Soviet offensives, in which Soviet and Afghan units tried to destroy rebels in the Paktia province. These operations were heavily supported by tactical aircraft, and Mujaheddin came under severe pressure, losing one position and base after the other. Even an intervention of the Pakistani Army, which deployed a small unit armed with Blowpipe MANPADs couldn’t help the situation, as Blowpipes showed very problematic to operate under given circumstances. During only one engagement, at least a dozen of them were fired without a single hit, and several Pakistani officers were injured in the Soviet counterattack.

The V-VS and the DRAAF also suffered considerable losses, as no less but 15 aircraft and helicopters were claimed shot down by Mujaheddin in two days of fighting in early November, and four helicopters on 13 November. Even such experienced fliers, like Col. Leonid Fursin, Commander of the 190. IAP (equipped with MiG-21s) was shot down during this period. Nonetheless, after destroying the system of rebel bases along the Pakistani border, Soviets started a series of attacks in the area adjacent to Miranshah, Parachinar and Peshawar, and increased the number of attacks against camps inside Pakistan. Until that time, the PAF actually operated according to peacetime air identification/engagement procedures, its aircraft always remaining within the Pakistani airspace, and having an order to first identify any foreign aircraft inside the Pakistani airspace, and then ask for permission to engage.

Such requests would then go up the chain of command, over the Sector Commander, the Northern Air Command PAF, to the Deputy Chief of Air Staff. Of course, due to this procedure, lots of precious time was lost, and no successful engagements of Soviet or Afghani aircraft were possible. Operating under such conditions was both frustrating and problematic for Pakistani pilots and officers, especially as the number of Soviet and Afghani incursions into the Pakistani airspace increased, while there was a considerable public pressure to do something against this. Finally, the situation deteriorated to the point, where the PAF was compelled to deploy Mirages to Kamra, and F-16s to Samungli and Peshawar, in February 1986, and to adapt its RoEs in so far, that they now permitted more freedom of operation for both the tactical operators at local GCI-stations, as well as for pilots. Soon, numerous serious incidents were to follow.

Before either Mirages or F-16s could arrive, however, the F-6s continued to carry the brunt of CAPs, and on 11 February 1986, they had their first serious engagement. Two F-6s, flown by Flt.Lt. Anwar Hussain and Flg.Off. Amjad Bashir were on a CAP, when the GCI advised them of two contacts NE of Parachinar. Hussain and Bashir were vectored in the area, and they soon detected four MiG-23s. Closing at a speed of Mach 1, two F-6s were swiftly positioned right behind Soviet aircraft which turned around and re-entered the Afghani airspace. The GCI advised Hussain and Bashir to turn around as well, but the leader of the formation ignored the order to continue the pursuit until a moment when four additional MiG-23s appeared. Both F-6s immediately turned around, and returned to their base at high speed and low level.

This short engagement certainly hasn’t had any effects on the Soviets, then on 19 March 1986, several waves of Afghan Su-22s, escorted by MiG-23MLDs of the 120. IAP bombed Pakistani border posts. These attacks were a prelude for the next offensive of Soviet and troops of the Afghan Army, initiated on 2 April, the target of which were rebel supply bases around Tani and Zhawar. By the 10 April 1986, Soviets and Afghanis reached Tani, and subsequently Su-24s and Su-25s flew a series of strikes using laser-guided bombs. Mujaheddin were forced to organize a frontal defence and fight under circumstances for which they lacked the training and firepower. Regardless of these developments, the PAF was still held back, and the next serious engagement followed only on 12 April 1986, when three F-6s, flown by Gr.Capt. Shahid Kamal, Sqn.Ldr. Rahat Mujeeb and Sqn.Ldr. Khalid Chaudry were vectored to intercept two contacts in the Parachinar area.

Gr.Capt. Kamal successfully closed into the range of his AIM-9P missiles and fired one Sidewinder, but no hit was observed. Meanwhile, both the targets and the whole Pakistani formation turned around towards west, and the GCI advised the pilots, that the enemy still hasn’t noticed them. Thus, Kamal closed again and fired another Sidewinder, which missed again. The lead handed over to Sqn.Ldr. Chaudry, which identified the targets as two Su-25s and fired one AIM-9P. The missile initially guided perfectly, but then turned into the sun and missed. Subsequent reconstruction of the engagement showed, that Grp.Cpt. Kamal fired, Both of his missiles outside the envelope for targets which were flying away from him.

Air Battles with ‘Bounded Hands’

By early 1986 the engagements between Pakistani, Soviet and Afghani aircraft clearly showed, that the F-6s of the PAF were outclassed by most modern Soviet types. Consequently, during the spring 1986, Mirages of the 5th and the 18th Squadrons, stationed at Kamra, took over. Not much about operations undertaken by these units is known, but, according to press reports from that time, they scored their first kill - one MiG-21 of the DRAAF - on 16 April 1986, followed by another MiG-21 on 10 May. The PAF never confirmed any of these claims. Considering the circumstances at the time, it is possible that these engagements have happened, but, that - due to RoEs, influenced by the politics - the PAF was not ready to confirm kills of aircraft whose wreckage fell inside Afghanistan. The - probably - third engagement of Pakistani Mirages happened on 14 May 1986, around 11:00AM, when At 11:00AM of 14 May 1986, Sqn.Ldr. Rao Qamar Suleman and Flt.Lt. Nawaz of the 18th Sqn were on a CAP SE of Parachinar, when the GCI vectored them towards several slow flying targets closing at the border. Closing at high speed, both Mirage pilots experienced a dilemma of many fast-jet fliers when confronting heavily armed but slow attack helicopters.

Turning several times around their targets, Suleman finally acquired a lock on and attacked from a distance of 1.4 kilometers, pressing the trigger at a distance of 900 meters. The guns didn’t fire, and Suleman made place for this wingman. Nawaz also tried to open fire from a distance of 800 to 900 meters, but his guns wouldn’t fire either, thus, both Mirages returned straight to their base. Subsequent inspection showed that the gun circuit breaker of Suleman’s aircraft popped out because of short-cut in the gun pack, while his wingman forgot to remove the gun trigger latch before firing. Technical problems and inexperience of Pakistani pilots thus deprived them of scoring two kills. By that time, after intensive training and preparations, two units of the PAF became operational with the F-16s. The elite 9th Squadron, lead by Wg.Cdr. Abdul Razzak, had 16 pilots and was to take a burden of operations, flying over 2.200 sorties during the following four years. From time to time, also the PAF F-16 OCU, the 11th Squadron, was to deploy to the area and start combat air patrols if needed. The reports about engagements undertaken by this unit are different, however: some say, that the unit had several engagements, but none of these were successful, because of the lack of proficiency with the newly acquired AIM-9L all-aspect Sidewinders.

There are other reports, however, indicating that the pilots of the 11th Sqn also scored at least one kill. The third unit, the 14 Squadron, lead by Wg.Cdr. Amjad Javed, was to deploy to Kamra in September 1986, and fly over 1.800 sorties by 1989. Under conditions of such intensive operations like in early 1986, and because of laxed RoEs, it took not long until the F-16s scored their first kill. In early May 1986, the aircraft of the V-VS and the DRAAF flew a series of strikes against the Mujaheddin bases in the Panjshir Valley, and on the early morning of 17 May also camps inside Pakistan were bombed. Shortly after the first strike, however, two F-16As, flown by Sqn.Ldr. Hameed Qadri and Sqn.Ldr. Mohammed Yousaf, reached their CAP-station over Parachinar, when the GCI advised them of two aircraft nearing that area at over 500 knots and already almost ten kilometers inside the Pakistani airspace.

While closing to engage, Pakistani pilots made several radar sweeps in order to assure, that no other Soviet or Afghani aircraft were nearby, then prepared their missiles and attacked. Closing to a distance of six miles, Qadri achieved a lock-on on one of the opponents, and immediately got a signal, that the missile tracked. Shortly afterwards, he fired one Sidewinder, which missed. Passing by the enemies, both F-16s initiated a hard 180° turn and engaged again: „I watched my No. 2 cross to my right side and called a visual as well as tally. I called 'engaged' and quickly locked on one of the Sukhois. I got all parameters right on one of them, uncaged the missile seeker head and fired my second AIM-9L missile. With the plume of fire and smoke, the missile from my right rail raced in a wide semicircle to the right. Taking tremendous lead, it soon reversed towards the target in a series of corrections and exploded on impact with the turning Su-22.“ Qadri then looked back to clear his tail, while continuing to keep the second aircraft in his sight and asking his wingman to keep his tail clear: „I fumbled with my switchology while attempting to select AIM-9L on Stores Management System and HOTAS.

The silhouette of the first aircraft was visible. The other aircraft was in a left turn. His radius of turn and my energy state gave me enough confidence that I could easily achieve kill parameters both with missile and guns. During the turn, I found myself hitting the fringes of AIM-9P missile. I pulled a high yo-yo as I was in a totally offensive position. My target was now in a nose-down and heading towards Afghan territory. After apexing, I quickly rolled back and fired a three-second burst on the exiting Su-22. I stopped firing when a trail of smoke and flash from his aircraft confirmed a lethal kill. Through a split 'S', I headed east of Parachinar.“ For his successful engagement and achievement Qadri was subsequently awarded the Sitara-i-Basalat.

The Soviets subsequently confirmed the loss of one of DRAAF Su-22M-3Ks, but their reaction was swift, foremost because of concerns, that PAF F-16s could try to intercept some of Tu-16 bombers, which now regularly operated over NE Afghanistan and relatively close to Pakistan. All operations behind the Pakistani border were cancelled, while the 120. IAP, equipped with 29 MiG-23MLDs (armed with R-24R as well as R-60M AAMs) and five MiG-23UBs was deployed to Bagram AB, north of Kabul.

While Soviet pilots were not permitted to engage in any kind of air combats, except in self defence, the first encounter followed very soon. On 19 June 1986, the 9th Squadron PAF was tasked to establish a CAP to NW of Zirat, in the Quetta area and monitor enemy activity, but not to approach the border any closer than approximately 50 kilometers. Two F-16As, flown by Sqn.Ldr. Hameed Qadri and Sqn.Ldr. Yousaf, were on station for almost 40 minutes, when the GCI vectored them to intercept two contacts inside the Pakistani airspace. The targets turned back, however, and Qadri abandoned the attack, only to subsequently be vectored towards new contacts. This time, the engagement was fast: Qadri successfully intercepted and entered the envelope behind two Soviet MiG-23MLs. However, while closing, he was not able to jettison his left drop tank due to a technical malfunction, which also prevented him to fire any of his AAMs. Consequently, Qadri ordered Yousaf to engage and attack, but, as he was outside the envelope, and both MiG-23s were now flying back into the Afghani airspace, the attack was abandoned and both F-16s turned back to their base.

Lots of Claims, no Explanations

For the rest of 1986, no additional air-to-air engagements were reported. Considering the fact, that there was not much activity on the ground, as well as that the Mujaheddin were now supplied with FIM-92A Stinger MANPADs, the V-FA and the DRAAF were at the time rather engaged with the fighting inside Afghanistan. In October and November 1986, no less but 200 FIM-92A Stingers were deployed with Mujaheddin inside Afghanistan, and the losses of the Soviet and Afghani air forces became almost catastrophic.

The 200. SchAE, equipped with Su-25s, for example, lost two pilots and four aircraft within two days in the Khost area, a MiG-23MLD and an An-12B were shot down on 19 November, and one of last remaining airworthy Il-28s of the DRAAF was also downed on 29 November over Bagram. On 19 December 1986, a group of Mujaheddin attacked aircraft directly over the Kabul Airport and shot down one An-12B. By 21 January 1987, when the Su-25 of the Lt. Pototschkin was shot down, the 200. SchAE lost additional three planes. Subsequently, the Soviets and the new Afghani government under Dr. Najibullah, realized, that no large-scale offensive operations could be undertaken anymore, because no effective air support could be guaranteed. Instead, both the V-VS and the DRAAF were now committed to interdiction operations against rebel supply routes.

Thus, with the end of the winter 1987, Soviet and Afghani aircraft became very active over the Pakistani border, flying hundreds of bombing and mining attacks. In a vain try to pre-empt the oncoming Mujaheddin spring offensives, from 23 March 1987, the DRAAF and the V-VS started a number of strikes in the Zhawar area. One of the first missions undertaken on that day, was flown by 12 MiG-21s of the DRAAF against targets in the Terrimangal and Angoor Adda area, but, by the end of the month, the rebels claimed no less but 50 aircraft and helicopters.

Additionally, the PAF now operated more aggressively, and - according to Russian sources - it’s F-16s even started to intercept Afghan and Soviet transports in the Khost area. On 30 March 1987, for example, Wg.Cdr. Abdul Razzak and Sqn.Ldr. Sikander Hayat were vectored towards two slow speed objects, which the GCI believed to be ELINT-recce aircraft closing towards the radar station near Parachinar. Wg.Cdr. Razzaq lost no time in intercepting the enemy, which was actually an Afghani An-26 transport, underway to Khost: „The vector given by the controller started the flow of adrenaline. All the preparatory actions were over in less than 30 seconds. The bandits were reported close to Parachinar; another 30-40 miles had to be covered. Soon the controller reported that now only one bandit was violating the border. The second had turned away. When I bought the target into the TD box at 3-4 NM, I realized that it was a slow moving, larger aircraft. I asked for permission to shoot, which was quickly given. With an overtake rate of well over 200 knots and a low IR signature; the minimum range cue was lying close to 4,000 feet. Effectively, I had no more than a 1.5 second firing window available.

Everything worked as advertised and with a press of the button, the missile was on its way. As I was breaking off, I saw the missile impact the target. My wingman also released another missile, which also impacted the target. The enemy aircraft crashed on snow-clad mountains below.“ According to Russian sources, all 39 people aboard the An-26 were killed. Hardly two weeks later, after several engagements without any fighting, the next short air battle followed. On early morning of 16 April 1987, two F-16As of the 14th Squadron, flown by Sqn.Ldr. Badar-us-Islam and Sqn.Ldr. Khalid Pervaiz Marwat were on a CAP near Thal. Several minutes after they reached the station, the GCI reported enemy aircraft inside the Pakistani airspace, and pilots were vectored to intercept. Coming out of the sun and at a high speed, Badar acquired the opponents - several Su-22s of the DRAAF - visually from a distance of seven miles and attacked: „Although faster, we were also climbing and had to chase the targets for a little while before they came into missile range. During the chase, I asked my wingman to keep an eye on the other two aircraft we had previously seen.

The moment I got the missile reticle, I fired my first AIM-9L missile. It was a unique experience. I had never fired a missile before. As the missile left the rail, it caused a slight yaw. I kept looking at the missile in some awe, but then lost it and started to look towards the target. In a couple of seconds, there was a big red flash around the aircraft that I was targeting. It started to spiral towards the ground in a left-hand turn. I locked on to the next aircraft and fired a second missile. The controller informed us that we were getting close to the border and that we should break off and head back. As soon as my second missile left the rail, I broke left and asked my wingman to do the same. During the process I looked over the canopy railing and saw another big flash in the area where my second target was.

I dived down and headed towards Bannu and started to look for my wingman and returned to base.“ In his post-mission report, Sqn.Ldr. Badar-us-Islam claimed to have shot down two aircraft. However, after examining all the evidence the PAF awarded him only one, possibly because the second Sukhoi crashed behind the Pakistani border: the Afghanis later confirmed, that their Lt.Col. Abdul Jameel successfully ejected and landed safely inside Afghanistan, but said nothing about any other plane being lost on that day.

The Loss of a PAF F-16A

By that time, first small groups of Mujaheddin - organized by Pakistani military - were operational inside the Soviet Union! Soviets clandestinely warned the Pakistani government, not to go too far, and such operations were discontinued. The situation in the air over the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, however, remained very tense, especially as Pakistani pilots became bold and flew apparently deep inside Afghanistan.

In April 1987, the Commander of the DRAAF, Lt.Gen. Abdul Kadir reported, that in the same year, Pakistani fighters crossed no less but 30 times into Afghani airspace. Pakistan denied these claims, but many reports confirmed them, especially the next engagement, which happened on 29 April 1987. On that morning, four MiG-23MLDs of the 120. IAP, lead by Lt.Col. Pochitalkin, were on a mission of mining pads used by Mujaheddin for transporting supplies from Pakistan in the Djaware area, when two F-16As from the 9th Sqn PAF intercepted them. The MiGs flew particularly high and fast and dropped their CBUs from a shallow dive. According to Pakistani sources, while MiG-23s were dropping their bombs the F-16s came closer and fired one Sidewinder. However, the whole MiG-23 formation subsequently did a post-strike turn and started to climb, and - according to Pakistani sources - following this turn the #2 of the Pakistani formation, Flt.Lt. Shahid Sikander, flew in front of his leader and directly in front of the AIM-9L which re-locked and scored a direct hit.

According to Russians, while turning his formation, Lt.Col. Pochitalkin took a look around and saw an airplane in flames, falling towards the earth. He called his comrades and all responded to be still underway and well. Meanwhile, Flt.Lt. Shahid Sikander ejected relatively deep over Afghanistan, but landed safely in the area controlled by Mujaheddin and was subsequently returned to Pakistan, together with a wing of his F-16 and one Sidewinder, still attached to its rail. A pair of PAF F-16As during the training flight (note blue-pained AIM-9L-training rounds). The pride of the Pakistani Air Force, the F-16s proved invaluable during the operations over the Afghani border: they were the only factor that prevented the Soviets and the Afghanis from flying even more attacks against the targets inside Pakistan. According to Russians, it is very likely that one of their pilots downed the F-16A in some sort of air combat but never claimed it as such because combats with Pakistani aircraft were prohibited.

The problem with this version is, that the MiG-23MLDs were not equipped with any air-to-air missiles when flying such missions, and that in no Soviet, Russian, or Ukrainian account of this battle is there any indication of the MiG-23-pilots having any clue - such like RWR-indications - about the F-16s before they saw one of the PAF fighters going down in flames. Other sources indicate, that the F-16 flew into the „cloud“ of cluster bomb units dropped by MiGs, and hit some of the mines/bomblets dropped by MiG-23s. The problem with this version would be, that CBUs are not deploying at the height at which the F-16s operated at that moment, but only when coming much closer to the ground. The fact remains, that this episode is definitely a pretty murky one: even according to laxed PAF RoEs for that period of time, F-16s have not had anything to do inside the Afghani airspace.

Indeed, subsequently such flights were not permitted again. But, the two F-16s were obviously there, and thus - despite several very authoritative Pakistani sources claiming something else - the whole story indicates, that PAF interceptors operated frequently and aggressively inside the Afghani airspace. One question remains open: what should the #2 of the Pakistani formation do in front of his leader (even if this happened during some maneuvering) which is "pad-locked" (i.e. engaging enemy aircraft)? The PAF F-16s operated in "loose duce", so one had nothing to search in front of the other. It might have happened that the leader of the F-16-pair had some problems with his equipment, thus he left his #2 go for an attack in front of him, then solved his problems, locked on the wrong target and fired.

Theoretically, this "version" might be confirmed by press reports from that time, in which Pakistanis first denied any F-16 losses, but claimed one kill against a MiG-23; then confirmed a loss, confirmed one kill and confirmed one fratricide; while the final version is one fratricide, no MiG-23s shot down. Although, according to unconfirmed reports, PAF F-16s have also shot down two additional An-26s and four Mi-8 helicopters in the Khost area during the same month, and their operations so far were very successful, subsequently, the Pakistani higher command prohibited any further incursions into the Afghani airspace. Consequently, after this loss, RoEs for engagements of Afghani and Soviet aircraft were again limited to interceptions of only those aircraft, which operated deeper inside the Pakistani airspace. Nonetheless, in August 1987, the Government of Afghanistan claimed, that Pakistani F-16s had shot down another An-26s, this time one with civilians aboard, near Khost. Until today, however, Pakistan never confirmed this claim, and it remains unknown if anything similar happened. Anyway, much time was to pass until the next engagement between Soviet or Afghani aircraft and Pakistani interceptors.

The Shadow-Boxing

By late 1987 the situation for Soviets in Afghanistan was deteriorating rapidly. A large number of FIM-92A Stingers available to Mujaheddin made the operations of the Soviet air power a tricky and risky business, compelling its fliers to remain high, or operate by night. Without efficient air power, and at the pace they lost aircraft to Stingers, however, the Soviets could neither effectively control rural areas of Afghanistan, nor assure constant flow of supplies to several isolated garrisons along the Pakistani border.

As if this was not enough, unrest spread in the DRAAF and a series of defections or direct attacks against Afghani officials followed. On 3 October 1987, two Afghani crews flew their Mi-4 helicopters to Pakistan and landed near Chihal. Although both helicopters were returned to Afghanistan, their crews were granted political asylum. Shortly after, one Su-22s of the DRAAF tried to bomb the Presidential Palace in Kabul. As the MiG-23MLD interceptors of the 168. IAP, which reinforced the 120. IAP in August 1987 (bringing the total of MiG-23MLDs stationed inside Afghanistan to 46) and were also stationed at Bagram AB, were deemed not enough to stop any similar attacks in the future, the V-VS was forced to deploy the 115th GvIAP, equipped with MiG-29s, to Termez AB, in the then Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan, the sole task of which was the air defence of the Afghani capital. This measure proved effective: several weeks after MiG-29s arrived in the area of operations, no less but four Su-22s flown by Afghani pilots tried to attack the residency of the President of Afghanistan, but were intercepted by Soviet MiG-29s and all shot down within minutes.

When in late 1987 Mujaheddin put Khost under a siege, the V-VS also deployed the 185. BAP, equipped with Tu-22M-3s to Marry-2 AB. Squadron-sized formations of this regiment flew a series of attacks, dropping up to 200ts of bombs at once at rebel position, and using even 3.000kg heavy FAB-3000 bombs. Because the bombers operated continuously very close to the Pakistani border, four Tu-22PDs of the 341.DBAP, usually based at Ozernoye, were deployed to Mary-2. Tu-22PDs were equipped with powerful jamming equipment, which proved successful, as no Pakistani interceptors were either encountered or even registered near the areas where Tu-22s operated. By the spring of 1988, the situation in Afghanistan remained practically the same: Khost was still under a siege, but the rebels were not capable of taking it, and sporadic - but heavy - Soviet air raids continued, until the pull-out of Soviet forces was initiated. The first garrison to go was that in Barikot, which was - on 23 April 1988 - evacuated to Jalalabad.

The Soviets hoped, that their retreat could be executed in well organized and peaceful manner. But, the rebels started a series of fierce attacks against Jalalabad which only caused even more losses. During May, additional Soviet contingents pulled back from southern and south-western Afghanistan, but, instead of going straight back home, a good part of them was now engaged in new fighting in the Jaji area, where a sizable group of Mujaheddin became active. On 24 June, a group of rebels executed a well organized attack against the Kabul airfield, destroying eight Su-25s there, and in the following days, Bagram also came under repeated rocket-fire. The Soviets, however, initiated a massive resupply operation for the regime in Kabul, and hundreds of tons of weapons, ammunition and other items were flown to Afghanistan during the following months. Also, from late July 1988, Soviet aircraft also started a new series of raids against camps inside Pakistan. One of these missions, however, ended in another catastrophe.

The Broken Wing

On the late afternoon of 4 August 1988, a section of Su-24s was underway to attack an Afghan refugee camp near Miranshah. Half an hour before sunset however, they were detected by Pakistani radars, and two F-16As of the 14th Squadron, flown by Sqn.Ldr. Ather Bokhari (on F-16A 85-725) and Sqn.Ldr. Taufeeq Raja, were scrambled to intercept. Reaching a position over Hangu the Pakistani pilots were advised that the enemy turned back towards Afghanistan. Thus, the F-16s slowed down and started what seemed to be another several-hours-long CAP during the early evening. Sqn.Ldr. Bokhari then continued the story. „I was vectored on a heading of 300 degrees, and the controller reported the target 30 degree left, 15 NM. I turned left and called contact.

The GCI controller clearly told me to go ahead and shoot the target. I achieved a head-on IR lock on one aircraft at 7 NM flying high. He started to turn right at 6.5 NM, putting me on at 3.5 NM. I engaged burners and closed to less than 2.5 NM from the target before the desired launch zone (DLZ) started to flash. As all parameters were met, I fired the missile and saw it go towards the target in the TD box on the HUD. I next saw a ball of fire in the TD box. I broke left to 120 degrees, descended to 5,000 feet, and dispensed chaff and flares. On looking back at the 8 o'clock position, I saw flares at about 3-4 NM and mistook them initially for missiles. It all but stopped my heartbeat but my controller reassured me that there were no other aircraft in the vicinity, I then took a safe passage home.“

A V-VS Su-25 "Grach" seen armed with bombs and unguided rockets while rolling at Baghram AB. The type proved highly successful during the operations over Afghanistan, but started suffering losses to Stingers and Pakistani interceptors in the time between 1986 and 1988. Despite many reports on the contrary, no Su-25s were ever delivered to the Afghani Air Force. (Avijatsija & Vremja)

According to Russian sources, upon being attacked by an F-16s, the leader of the Su-25-formation, Col. Alexander Rutskoy initiated a hard, 6.5G turn into the threat. Nonetheless, it seems Rutskoy subsequently lost the sight of the opponent which pulled an even harder turn behind him in the darkness and was shot down by an AIM-9L. Upon impact the Su-25 broke in two, and the wreckage was found the following morning, but the cockpit was empty.

Thus, the Pakistanis organized a search operation, and the next evening Rutskoy was caught by local people, which handed him over to the authorities. Interestingly, the Russian pilot subsequently explained, that he was surely hit by a radar-guided missile, fired from the forward hemisphere, and declined to believe, that Bokhari used only one AIM-9L, fired from the rear hemisphere. However, it remains unclear why the Soviet formation continued their attack after being intercepted by F-16s: the target was not worth the danger they faced, and their RWRs should actually have warned them of the threat. But, considering the fact, that remaining three members of Rutskoy’s formation were far closer to the Afghani border, it seems possible, that the Colonel tried to defend them by engaging the F-16 and thus buying some precious time. The loss of Rutskoy and his Su-25s, however, was not the only bad news for Soviets in that month: hardly four days later, another Afghani pilot defected with his MiG-21 to Parachinar, in Pakistan. Equally, the tactic - or better said, the almost complete lack of any defensive maneuvering - displayed by Rutskoy’s formation remains unclear as well, especially in the light of the next engagement between Soviet and Pakistani aircraft, which followed hardly one month later.

Shaheens on the Prowl

At 06:06AM of 12 September 1988, two F-16As of the 14th Squadron, flown by Sqn.Ldr. Khalid Mahmood (on F-16A 85-728) and Sqn.Ldr. Anwar Hussain took off from Kamra AB in order to set up a CAP over the Nawagai area. Around 06:40AM, they were vectored by the GCI to intercept two contacts which were closing the Pakistani border at high level in eastern direction. Both F-16s were soon in proper position, but the contacts then turned to the north flying parallel to the border. In fact, there were not only two, but a total of 12 MiG-23MLDs of the 120. IAP in the air that morning, eight of which were loaded with bombs and have got the order to attack certain targets in the Kunar Valley, while four - split in two pairs (Lt.Col. Sergey Bulin with Maj. N. Golisienko, and Maj. S. Petkov with 1st Lt. V. Danchenkov) - acted as escorts. Detecting four additional contacts, the GCI swiftly turned the F-16s towards the new threat, and Sqn.Ldr. Mahmood acquired a total of six contacts, of which four in the forward formation were trailed by additional two coming from behind.

The only problem for Pakistanis now was, that the F-16s were still at the level of 3.500 meters, while their targets flew at more than 10.000 meters, and the rear pair of the targets was flying much faster than the first four aircraft. Indeed, the Soviet GCI detected Pakistani F-16s, and advised Petkov and Danchenkov to block them, while the rest of the formation was to turn back towards West. But, the Pakistanis were faster: closing to a distance of 12km, Mahmood achieved a radar lock-on, but his Sidewinders failed to track the target, as the Soviet pilots engaged their IR counter measures. Mahmood started no less but three attempts to acquire, but failed to do so and, after closing to a distance of less than three kilometers, tried for a fourth time. Finally, he was successful, and fired one AIM-9L from a low-to-high/left-to-right conversion attack and 135° aspect angle. His target was MiG-23MLD „Bort 55“, flown by Capt. Sergey Privalov, which engaged his IRCM. The Sidewinder closed, however, and exploded over his aircraft, sending dozens of hot splinters into the wings and the fuselage.

The whole Soviet section executed a turn to the West now, with Privalov in tow and Petkov and Danchenkov joining the formation without - as it seems - trying to engage F-16s with their R-24s, while Bulin and Golisienko closed from the north and certainly tried to acquire a lock on. However, Mahmood was already executing a hard port turn underneath the enemy formation, rolling out directly behind it and in a perfect attack position behind no less but six MiG-23MLDs! His radar immediately achieved another lock-on, but Mahmood rejected the lock and switched over to an auto-lock, which automatically selected his two AIM-9P missiles, considered better for stern attack. Closing to a distance of three kilometers, the Pakistani fired another missile at the MiG-23MLD flown by Maj. Petkov, when the GCI warned him of two Soviet aircraft directly behind. Mahmood broke hard into the threat, but found nothing there, only to - upon a turn back to the west - realize that the rest of the Soviet formation was already too far away to be intercepted and almost over the Afghani border.

For two F-16 pilots there remained nothing else but to return back to their base. According to Pakistani reports, this warning of two Soviet aircraft behind Mahmood and Hussain was caused by a radar controller, Sqn.Ldr. Irfan-ul-Haq, misinterpreting a clutter on his scope. In fact Lt.Col. Sergey Bulin and Maj. N. Golisienko were closing from that side, however, their Sapheer-23ML radars were not able to pick-up the lower flying F-16s (probably due to a ground clutter), thus denying them a chance to attack with R-24 missiles. Subsequently they turned towards the West and joined the rest of the formation. Privalov’s MiG-23MLD „55“ managed it back to Bagram (albeit it overshoot the runway and was badly damaged when the nose-leg collapsed), just like Petkov, whose aircraft was not damaged at all.

Nonetheless, after an analyze of the HUD-film and radar bands, the PAF and a team of American experts claimed, that in all probability, both Sidewinders fired by Mahmood found their targets. Subsequently, a pretty massive search for the wrecks of both MiGs was started, supposedly finding one of them on the Pakistani side of the border, and another inside Afghanistan. Reportedly, the recovery of the wreck that fell inside Afghanistan was not possible, because it was scattered over a large - and mined - area, while one missile pylon was recovered from the aircraft that fell inside Pakistan. Thus, Sqn.Ldr. Khalid Mahmood was credited with two kills (and the pilot claimed he would have shot down all the six MiG-23s he engaged, if there was no warning based on falsely interpreted radar picture), while the Russians say they haven’t suffered any losses at all, and, according to their descriptions the whole situation rather looked like a try to set up a trap for Pakistani fliers, which functioned, but remained empty, because of the inability to acquire the enemy properly.The height at which the Soviet aircraft operated certainly indicated that this might have been truth, because operations at such heights might have lowered the problems with the ground clutter the Sapheer-23ML have had.

Final Engagements

The wish of the Soviets to catch at least one of Pakistani F-16s was perhaps influenced by several Iraqi claims, that their MiG-23MLs have shot down Iranian Phantoms, Tomcats and Tigers. The Soviets certainly wanted to show their capabilities and were eager to engage. A good illustration of this was the case when on 26 September 1988, Maj. Vladimir Astahov and Capt. Boris Gavrilov intercepted two Iranian AH-1Js some 75 kilometers south-east of Shindand, and shot both down, supposedly using R-24 missiles. However, this was also to be the last engagement of Soviet interceptors during the War in Afghanistan. By this time, the Soviets troops were already pulled back from most of Afghanistan, and the DRAAF was now alone to fight against Mujaheddin, which took one city after the other. Under such circumstances, the government in Kabul was rather careful not to provoke the Pakistanis even more. Nonetheless, on 3 November 1988, two F-16s of the 14 Squadron, flown by Sqn.Ldr. Ehtsham Zakaria and Sqn.Ldr. Khalid Mahmood (on F-16A 85-717), were on a CAP over the Kohat area, the GCI informed them of six contacts closing towards the border, three of which subsequently entered the Pakistani airspace, while three - probably escorting MiG-21s - remained over Afghanistan. Both F-16s were swift to engage, closing upon the enemy, when their contacts suddenly executed a 180° turn and flew back towards Afghanistan, apparently after being warned by their GCI.

Closing to a range of eleven kilometers, Zakaria acquired the target visually and recognized it as a Su-22, flying at a level of almost 6.000 meters. While both F-16s were still in a climb, the Sukhois were already underway to the west, but then, one of Afghanis turned back into the threat at the same time when Zakaria experienced some difficulties with his Sidewinders. The Su-22 corrected his route towards the leading F-16, but Mahmood was quick in countering this move and firing one AIM-9L from a range of approximately five kilometers in a head-on-pass. The missile impacted, blowing several pieces off the Sukhoi, but the aircraft continued to fly. While Zakaria maneuvered for a gun-attack, Mahmood fired another Sidewinder, this time from a 150 - 160° aspect angle. The second hit broke the Su-22 in two and the wreck fell some 18 kilometers inside Pakistan.

The pilot. Capt. Abdul Hashim, ejected and was captured by Pakistani Army. DRAAF Su-22M-4K seen on landing at Baghram AB sometimes in 1986. The Type proved popular with Afghani pilots because of its good payload and range, and became also the main fighter-bomber of the DRAAF. Nevertheless, it was not nimble enough for battling the highly mobile Mujahedding down between the mountain ranges. (Avijatsija & Vremja)
Generally, this was the last serious air-to-air engagement over the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, even if several other interceptions were undertaken by Pakistani interceptors afterwards, and a number of Afghani pilots defected to Pakistan. For example, in the night from 20 to 21 November, Sqn.Ldr. Ather Bokhari supposedly intercepted one Afghani An-26 near Khost, when the transport suddenly exploded in mid-air and crashed. On 8 December 1988, a DRAAF pilot defected with his MiG-21MF to Miranshah, in Pakistan, and on 31 January another An-24 crashed in the Khost area, after being intercepted by Sqn.Ldr. Khalid Mahmood. At that time, despite at least two additional air raids undertaken by Soviet Tu-22M-3s, the future of the Afghani government was sealed, as it basically remained only in control of the area around Kabul.

Just like many of remaining ground units, numerous defections hit the DRAAF afterwards: on 3 July 1989, a crew of an Mi-24 defected with their helicopter to Pakistan and landed near Kica, three days later another pilot flew his Su-22M-4K to Peshawar, and on 29 October 1989 a MiG-21 followed him to the same Pakistani air base. For all purposes, however, the direct Soviet involvement in the war in Afghanistan ceased by the end of 1989, and subsequently, this conflict developed into a pure „civil“ war, with different Afghani fractions battling each other.

In 1988, as the Soviets were in the middle of their pull-out from Afghanistan, the DRAAF consisted of following units:

- 232. OBVP 20 Mi-4, Mi-6, Mi-8 stationed at Kabul International

- 321. BAP 60 Su-22M-3K, Su-22M-4K, Su-17UM-2K stationed at Baghram AB

- 322. IAP 60 MiG-21MF/bis (four squadrons) stationed at Baghram AB, but with detachments at Shindand and several other airfields

- 332. OBVP ? Mi-8 helicopters stationed at Jurum

- 355. BAP 30 Il-28 and MiG-17, stationed at Shindand, but with most Il-28s at Kabul and in unrepairable condition: it seems this unit was also equipped with L-39s and acted as training outfit

- 375. OBVP 25 Mi-24D/Mi-35V and Mi-8/17, with main base at Mazar-e Sharif

- 377. OBVP 25 Mi-35V, Mi-8, Mi-17 stationed at Kabul International

- 393. IAP 50 MiG-21MF/bis stationed at Mazar-e Sharif

- 377. OBVP 25 Mi-35V, Mi-8, Mi-17, stationed at Kabul International (and other bases)

- ? TAP with 40 An-2, Il-14, An-26/30/32 transports, stationed mainly at Kabul International.

After the Soviet pull-out, in 1989, the official Afghan Army retreated into the larger cities, fortifying them in the process. All the Army was doing for the next several months was to fire SS-1B Scuds at different concentrations of Mujaheddins (over 1.000 Scuds were fired), and attacking them with air power. Otherwise, the DRAAF was busy supplying all the cut-out garrisons. In February 1990, during the fighting in the Abbassak Pass, and in March 1990, during the fighting north of Kabul, the Mujaheddins cut the last land connection between Kabul and the Soviet Union.

By late 1991, the official Afghan Army was actually non-existing, as the units either disintegrated due to desertions, or the local commanders disobeyed the orders from Kabul and took over the control. Only most of the DRAAF as well as the special units and the Inner Ministry troops remained loyal to Najibullah's regime. Nevertheless, even the DRAAF was not completely loyal: already in December 1989 two pilots flew their Mi-34Vs to Panjshir Valley, and deserted to Masood. These two helicopters remained operational for the next ten years.

Najibullah was now negotiating with different political parties and warlords, and an agreement was reached for the creation of an interim government. However, the Mujaheddin also started to fight each other, so soon what little was left of any official structures fell apart as well: this was the moment when the USA have lost the patience and interest, and have pulled out as well, stopping any kind of deliveries to the Pakistanis and in turn leaving them without any help and financial support for the Mujaheddins.

In October 1991, some Pakistani-supported Mujaheddin fractions attacked Gardez with tanks and artillery they received from Saudi Arabia (most of this material was captured from the Iraqis, in February 1991). During the fighting, however, the rivalry between different Mujaheddin groups escalated, and the battle ended with them fighting each other. Under these circumstances, the local landlord, Gen. Rasheed Dostam, established himself as the man in power: he organized his own militia, which took away the equipment of two full army divisions and a good part of the DRAAF. Dostam was soon powerful enough to reach Kabul as well, where he then turned the coat and put himself on the side of the government.

But, please note: although he operated a militia consisting of former Army troops and equipped with former Army weaponry, he was not the part of the Army. How many aircraft and helicopters he controlled in late 1991 is unknown, but it is known that in December of that year the DRAAF was left only with Su-22M-3Ks and Su-22M-4Ks of the 321. IBAP at Baghram, the 322. IAP with perhaps 65 MiG-21s also at Baghram, the 377. OBVP at Kabul International, and the 332. OBVP stationed at Jurum. In October 1991, the USSR planned to deliver 15 Su-24MKs to the DRAAF, but this was cancelled because of the situation of the service. The 375. OBVP at Mazar-e Sharif was obviously one of the units which were integrated into Dostam's militia.

By the spring of 1992 Dostam had some 70.000 fighters, as well as some 60 MiG-21s and Su-22s, 60 helicopters, and 200 T-55 and T-62 tanks under his command. This force was in a relatively good condition, because it possessed huge stocks of spare parts and weapons left back by the Soviets. Indeed, in early 1992, Dostam felt powerful enough to start mixing in the war in Tajikistan: his force helped in the evacuation of many refugees over Amudarja river into Afghanistan.

However, before they were able to fully integrate their forces, the elements of Massoud's and Hekmatyar's fractions entered Kabul, on 25 April 1992. Better planning and possession of some 50 tanks enabled Masood to capture all the important installations. The Pakistani-supported Hekmatyar was mad about this fact and started shelling Kabul with BM-21s and heavy artillery: before the Dostam-controlled parts of the former DRAAF could react and silence his guns and rocket launchers in a series of effective strikes (mainly flown by Su-22s), over 40.000 civilians were killed in Kabul.

The Dostam's fighter-bombers then also supported Massoud's troops when these fought to capture the Kabul International (or Qahra International Airport). Once this was done, on 26 April 1992 Dostam's An-12Bs and An-26s flew most of Massoud's units into the Afghani capital, and from the following morning Masood and Dostam were controlling Kabul - or what was left of it - alone, but quasi in the name of all the Mujaheddin, placing Rabbani as the transitional President of Afghanistan. Dostam's AF was active in the summer of 1992 again, during the fighting against the Hezbi-i-Islami, in the Charasiab area, during which at least three of Dostam's fighters were shot down by FIM-92A Stingers. The fighting here stopped only in October when Hekmatyar - newly supplied with ex-Iraqi artillery from Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - started shelling Kabul again, on 14 October 1992.

Dostam's AF flew strikes against Hekmatyar's artillery positions, but it was once again too late and not enough: the shelling was so terrible, that most of the city was ruined and all the foreign diplomats have left. By February 1993, when Masood and Dostam managed to push Hekmatyar out of the artillery range Kabul was completely destroyed. Once there was some sort of the peace, Rabbani positioned Dostam as Defence Minister.

But, then they broke, and Masood was placed in Dostam’s place. Dostam then turned the sides and joined Hekmatyar: thus in late 1993 the well-known "Dostam-Golboddin Militia" (DGM) was organized, which meanwhile included more than 70% of the former Afghan Army and DRAAF weaponry. The DGMAF, commanded by Gen. Barir was mainly stationed at Mazar-e Sharif. Gen. Barir was known to have flown many combat sorties himself; this was especially the case when the DGM AF started bombing Kabul and Baghram in support of a new attack against Massoud's troops. The strike against Baghram largely prevented the operations of the rest of the former DRAAF, but by early January 1994, the official Afghan AF was operational again, and when DGMAF MiG-21s appeared over Kabul again, on 12 January, two of them were shot down in air combats with AAF MiG-21MFs (one DGMAF pilot was captured).

On 23 January, the DGMAF repeated the strike against Baghram, damaging one runway heavily, but this force was - due to its cooperation with Hekmatyar - in dire straits with its own personnel, and during this attack, no less but four DGM-pilots deserted, landing their intact aircraft on the undamaged runway of Baghram. Minutes later, three others landed at Shindand and also changed the side - so it seems only the strike leader returned back to Mazar-e Sharif. The DGMAF flew some more combat sorties during 1994, as, after failing to take Kabul, the DGM turned to conquer other parts of Afghanistan. It is known, for example, that on 19 March one of its MiG-21s was shot down during the fighting with Ismail Khan's troops near Balkh, in south-western Afghanistan.

At least a dozen of other DGM aircraft - including MiG-21s, Su-22s, and different transports - were shot down by the end of the year. By May, however, they had to move their main base away from Mazar-e Sharif, as the airfield there was captured by Massoud's troops: afterwards, the DGM AF could only operate from several smaller airfields - former dispersal sites - in northern Afghanistan, where he was constantly replenished from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

But, while the Rabbani and Masood were busy with DGM in the north, another - and completely unknown so far - movement appeared in the south: the Pakistani-created and Saudi-financed TALIBAN, actually organized by the ISI after the disappointment with Hekmatyar. The spread of the Taliban was so well organized, that within few weeks after their appearance in 1994 70% of the country came under their control, many of "invincible" Mujaheddins were defeated, and the Rabbani's government remained only in possession of Kabul and the areas further in the north.

In February 1995, the Taliban conquered areas held by Hekmatyar, capturing more than 200 MBTs, and APCs, as well as few helicopters. The DGM held only slightly longer: by that time, it was in need of new weapons and spare parts, but these were not forthcoming from the CIS-states without proper payments any more: at one moment, Dostam was forced to exchange several of his fighter-bombers for two Uzbeki L-39s, so he could train his pilots properly. During the flight to Uzbekistan, on 26 January 1995, one of the Su-22s crashed. In February the DGM lost also a Mi-17, the rotor of which disintegrated in flight. In March 1995, the Taliban closed upon the Hekmatyar's garrison in Charasiab, which then fled without firing even a single shot.

As if this would not be enough, Dostam and Hekmatyar then turned again against Masood and new fighting broke out in the Kabul and Khenj areas, during which the last air combats of this war happened: on 7 June DGM AF Su-22s bombed Khenj when they were intercepted by AAF MiG-21s, which shot down one Sukhoi. However, at this stage also the "Taliban AF" - the later Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Air Force (IEAAF), initially created and run by the Pakistanis - appeared, and its MiG-21s shot down two of AAF helicopters over the Samgan Province, on 14 June, when these were transporting ammunition to Massoud's troops. The next action of the IEAAF was not less spectacular: on 3 August 1995, its MiG-21s intercepted a Russian Il-76 which was underway with supplies for Masood, and forced it to land at Khandahar.

The Origins of the IEAAFWhere these MiG-21s came from is unknown: "officially" they were former DRAAF aircraft, mainly captured at Herat. However, it must be said, that the DRAAF had not so many MiG-21s stationed in southern Afghanistan, so their actual source is unknown. Certainly, as religious scholars, the Taliban had no clue about flying MiG-21s - and even less so maintaining such planes - and at the time no former DRAAF-personnel worked with them, so the actual background of the IEAAF is pretty clear: PAF. During the rest of spring and the whole summer, the AAF and the DGM AF suffered one loss after the other, as their fighter-bombers were repeatedly shot down by Taliban MANPADs (mainly FIM-92A Stingers, but also some Pakistani-supplied Anzas). In October, finally, the Taliban captured Herat, and then approached Kabul. The IEAAF was very active at this time, but was also suffering considerable losses: on 16 October, for example Masood fighters downed no less but three MiG-21s and a Mi-8 over Maydan Shah during a single action, using MANPADs.

On 31 October also two IEAAF MiG-21s were shot down over Khandahar, and one over Kabul. Finally, on 12 November two IEAAF Mi-8s were shot down near Log: one of them carried the Mullah Omar, but he survived. By the late 1995, Masood - and also Ismail Khan - were reinforced by new arms deliveries from Russia and Iran, respectively. Several Russian and IRIAF Il-76s were registered while landing at Jalalabad and Baghram at the time. IRIAF transports were in mid-December 1995 seen even directly over Kabul, escorted by IRIAF F-14A interceptors).

Thanks to these reinforcements, Masood managed to stop the first Taliban attack against Kabul. On 1 November 1995, the DGMAF tried to destroy the IEAAF on the ground, but the operation failed completely: one Su-22 was shot down (pilot captured), and the others aborted the attack after seeing the fierce air defences around the Taliban airfields (foremost that near Khandahar). By the end of November, Masood has lost most of his remaining intact MiG-21s and Su-22s, and from that moment on, the IEAAF practically possessed the air superiority over Afghanistan, and its Su-22s flew a series of strikes which by the summer of 1996 weakened the Massoud's defences so much, that the Taliban finally broke into Kabul, and captured not only the city, but also the Baghram AB, where most of the last remaining - even if mainly inoperational - MiG-21s and Su-22s were captured intact. Masood later admitted that the Taliban came so fast, that his troops haven't managed to destroy or even sabotage their aircraft. Because of this, again the question raised, who was leading the "Islamic scholars" in the fighting that they were so successful against battle-hardened Mujaheddin?

In their next operation, undertaken in January 1997, the Taliban attacked the DGM and destroyed it completely: most of the DGM troops fled into CIS countries in the north. Afterwards, the situation remained pretty same until late 1999: Masood held some 10% of Afghanistan, and Rabbani's government was accepted as the official Afghani government, even if having no power actually. Their only success was the re-capture of the Baghram AB, in 1998, when Masood used a moment at which the Pakistanis were not careful: the attack was successful, and again many MiG-21s and Su-22s were captured intact, even if none of them was ever made flyable again.

The Last Two Years

Due to the lack of coherent command & communications structure, especially regarding the use of heavier weapons, the Taliban could not go much further than they managed so far - especially not without more direct help from Pakistan. So, in 1998, Pakistani Government and Army - obviously growing inpatient by the Taliban inability to deliver the final defeat of what was now known as the "Northern Coalition" or "United Front" (unified command of mainly Tajik Afghan forces in north-eastern Afghanistan, under the command of Masood) - intensified their support for Taliban. This process reached unprecedented levels by late that year and throughout the 1999 and 2000. At the time, Pakistani help was "limited" to massive food supplies, fuel, ammunition, and spares supply. The amounts of these supplied by Pakistan varied through years, but enabled - for example - the IEAAF to mount up to 30 strike missions daily, or a total of up to 160 sorties per week in late 1998.

The Pakistani help was also influential in creating the IEAAF as an "official" (Taliban) Air Force from what was before a rag-tag group of pilots and aircraft without any organized support, and enabling this service some particularly intensive transport operations, like in late 1998, when An-12s and An-26s flew dozens of troop-transport and supply missions into the north, in support of the offensive in which Taloqan was captured.

At the time shortly after its "official" creation, the IEAAF 1998 was a pretty powerful asset for its circumstances. It had over 30 intact MiG-21s alone. Yet, with the loss of the air base at Baghram, almost 70% of its assets were lost as well. During the retreat from Baghram, Taliban disabled or destroyed all aircraft they could not take with them (so many were inoperational at the time), and that's the reason for plenty of pictures taken at that airfield during the last two years, showing scores or broken and derelict planes lying around. The IEAAF reached the peak of its effectiveness in the year 2000, during the Taliban offensive against Taloqan, when it flew no less but 160 combat missions within two weeks. However, for the reasons which will be explained further below, it suffered a loss of at least eight MiG-21s and Su-22s, all shot down by SA-14 MANPADs. Not a single of the downed pilots was recovered (although, some ejected safely and were captured), which caused a significant problem for the IRAAF that became apparent already by the autumn 2000, when the for when the force was hardly active at all due to the lack of pilots and ammunition (this was one of the factors for the Taliban offensive being stopped in Badakhshan, in September 2000).

Especially the loss of General Allahdad, Commander of the Mazar-e-Sharif AB and one of IEAAF most distinguished pilots - whose MiG-21 was shot down on 6 August 2000, by an SA-14 over Taloqan - proved to be a heavy blow for the IEAAF. Nevertheless, the military successes of the Pakistani special forces supported by the IEAAF and the al-Qaida in NW Afghanistan enabled the opening of another supply route - via Turkmenistan, foremost important for fuel imports. This route remained intact until the early days of November 2001, despite immense interdiction efforts of the USN fighters since 8 October 2001.

Namely, Turkmenistan declared itself "neutral" in the US-lead Anti-Terror War even after the local government agreed to accept US forces on its soil.By the early 1999, the Taliban military became completely dependent of the standing force of the al-Quaida's militant structures, as well as the PA and PAF. Even more so, the financial support from al-Qaida helped the Taliban also attract and keep foreign volunteers in Afghanistan. To make it clear: right since 1994, when the Taliban "appeared", the Pakistanis have contributed the greatest proportion of the Taliban. By 2001, between 5.000 and 7.000 Pakistani volunteers were members of the Taliban, or, better said, the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan, which at the time was said to have had between 8.000 and 12.000 combatants inside the country.

The situation of the Pakistanis in Afghanistan was, however, not that simple: their contingent was divided into three overlapping categories. The hard-core of the majority were young students from Pakistani madrassahs (religious seminaries) of the Deobandi School (which produced most Taliban), mobilized and moved into Afghanistan often without any kind of even rudimentary military training. This force would certainly never be able to deliver such defeats to Masood, Dostam, and Hekmatyar as it did between 1994 and 1998: indeed, all the Taliban advances in that time caused massive losses to this force, to such degree, that by 2001 they actually ceased to be of any importance. Then there was the next "class" of the Pakistanis, foremost those sent to Afghanistan by different religious organizations, like Harakat-ul-Mujahideen (formerly Haraka-ul-Ansar), the anti-Shi'ia Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), and the smaller Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

These were mainly Pakistani militants, to large degree also former members of the Pakistani military, with good previous training and additional knowledge of ground operations.The third "class" were PA, ISI, and PAF regulars. At earlier times, 1994 through 1998, these were mainly professional officers: they were tasked with planning and logistic roles. Some were retired officers, non-commissioned officers, and technicians of the PA and the PAF: they were mainly tasked to lead the less experienced troops of the first two "classes". By August and September 2000, however, also the first regular PA units - initially the special forces - were deployed, and they became influential in the capture of Taloqan.

By the summer of 2001, the PA should have had elements of three regular commando battalions (the locals called them everything possible: between "regiment" and "division") operating in Afghanistan - of course under the guise of "Taliban".In January 2001 the process of the mobilization of such assets was maximized, with intensive support from Pakistan now reaching levels through deployment of other regular PA units. On 10 January 2001, for example, a meeting was held in Akora Khattak, in Pakistan, between the leaders of Pakistan-based extremist groups, top-ranking officers of the Pakistani ISI (such as Gen. (Ret.) Hamid Gul, former Chief of the military intelligence services) and Gen. Aslam Beg of the PA, which advocated maximized military support of Pakistan to the Taliban/al-Qaida coalition, and defying the UN sanctions against the Taliban.

Interestingly, the meeting, at which representants of as many as 30 militant and military groups attended (all protected by hundreds of heavily armed guards of their own), was held in a broad daylight despite the martial law by the military Government of Pakistan; obviously, the whole affair was orchestrated by the Pakistani Government. One of the consequences of this meeting was an intensification of Pakistani support and deployment of new PA units into the northern Afghanistan.

In a sweeping move, preceding the deadline of the imposition of new UN sanctions against the Taliban and foreign "volunteers" (actually mercenaries) in Afghanistan, from 12 January onward, a number of new commando and artillery units of the Pakistani Army, partially manned by Pakistani volunteers (not regular PA personnel), in total some 1.500 Pakistani nationals, was deployed in northern Afghanistan in preparation for foreseeable attacks on the government forces. According to contemporary reports, PA General Qamar-u-Zaman was assigned as the new officer in charge of military operations in Afghanistan, replacing PA General of the Army Saeed Zafar, who functioned in the same capacity in Afghanistan over the past year. Furthermore, additional new commanders arrived, including the PA General Tariq Bashir, formerly commander of the 9th Division of the PA; Brig. Momin and Col. Sanaullah from PA's Kohat Division.

Col. Hamza of the Pakistan's ISI (military intelligence service); whole "998 Brigade" was replaced by the 996 Brigade (CO Brig. Amjad of Sayawali; the unit was a part of what was called "Charat Commando Division" by the Afghanis), and being placed in reserve; the 117 Brigade was replaced by the 994 Brigade (CO Brig. Faizan Khan of Laki Maroot, Pakistan); and the 625 Artillery Battalion (CO ? Rafique, active PA officer). In addition, PA Brig. Amjad was assigned the CO of Pakistani forces in the Takhar Province, where during the summer PA units, and units of Pakistani volunteers were equipped with additional equipment to establish capability to cross the Kokcha River. These reinforcements, however, have not managed to build up a strength needed for the expected "final offensive" against NC/UF forces in NE Pakistan, as during the relatively mild winter 2000/2001, the MC/UF forces under command of Ahmadshah Masood have not only managed to stop several fierce attacks by Pakistani/Taliban/al-Qaida forces, but also to spoil their preparations by engaging Taliban forces on several places, and forcing the Pakistanis to react, practically placing them at a defensive, instead of enabling them to act, and start their own offensive.

The fighting was focused on two areas: starting an offensive in the western Afghanistan, the NC captured several cities and villages in the strategic Yakolan District, in late December 2000 and early January 2001. On 3rd January, Taliban counterattacked around Konduz (150km north of Kabul), trying to push NC forces away from the city and cut their main supply route into Tajikistan. Additional Taliban - actually Pakistani units - supported by air strikes and artillery - were then rushed from Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, towards Bamiyan, at best helping to stabilize the front.

It is highly likely, that some of the Arab "Jihadis" (of which there were between 2.000 and 4.000 with the al-Qaida/Taliban) - foremost the Egyptians - and some of almost 2.000 Chechens have had some sort of experience with the aircraft, and have helped the IEAAF as well.Now, by 2001, the IEAAF had 21 MiG-21s (of which 8 operational and 13 non-operational and mostly used for spare parts); 17 Su-20/22 airframes (8 operational and 9 non-operational and mostly used for spare parts, plus one example - the "white 82" - exhibited at the entrance to Kabul International)); and five L-39 airframes (of which two intact but not operational and three in derelict condition). The IEAAF possessed also four Mi-24 or Mi-35 helicopters, and eleven operational Mi-8s (the number of derelict or non-operational airframes was unknown). A large fleet of military transports was available, even if these were mainly officially operated by the Afghan „Ariana" Airlines.

All these aircraft were very active throughout the whole year (especially in winter, when most roads are useless due to snow) and were in reasonably good condition.Here is the list of transport aircraft at the times available to IEAAF, Ariana, and Tyumenaviatrans. First column gives the operator of the aircraft, the second is the aircraft’s identity (registration or serial), then the construction number, and the last is the model of the aircraft.

Owner Registration/Serial c/n Model

Afghan Air Force 229 SFG1008 An-26
Afghan Air Force 230 SFG1009 An-26
Afghan Air Force 231 SFG1010 An-26
Afghan Air Force 232 SFG1011 An-26
Afghan Air Force 233 SFG1012 An-26
Afghan Air Force 234 SFG1013 An-26
Afghan Air Force 235 SFG1014 An-26
Afghan Air Force 236 SFG1015 An-26
Afghan Air Force 237 SFG1016 An-26
Afghan Air Force 238 SFG1017 An-26
Afghan Air Force 239 SFG1018 An-26
Afghan Air Force 240 SFG1019 An-26
Afghan Air Force 241 SFG1020 An-26
Afghan Air Force 242 SFG1021 An-26
Afghan Air Force 243 SFG1022 An-26
Afghan Air Force 244 SFG1023 An-26
Afghan Air Force 245 SFG1024 An-26
Afghan Air Force 246 SFG1025 An-26
Afghan Air Force 247 SFG1026 An-26
Afghan Air Force 252 SFG1027 An-26
Afghan Air Force 268 SFG1028 An-26
Afghan Air Force 284 AN32021 An-32
Afghan Air Force 301 AN32053 An-32
Afghan Air Force 302 AN32054 An-32
Afghan Air Force 303 AN32055 An-32
Afghan Air Force 304 AN32056 An-32
Afghan Air Force 305 AN32057 An-32
Afghan Air Force 306 AN32058 An-32
Afghan Air Force 307 AN32022 An-32
Afghan Air Force 308 AN32023 An-32
Afghan Air Force 346 AN32059 An-32
Afghan Air Force 353 AN32024 An-32
Afghan Air Force 363 AN32060 An-32
Afghan Air Force 381 AN12235 An-12
Afghan Air Force 382 AN12236 An-12
Afghan Air Force 384 AN12237 An-12
Afghan Air Force 387 4342205 An-12
Afghan Air Force 388 AN12238 An-12
Afghan Air Force 390 AN12239 An-12
Afghan Air Force T-001 87010105 Il-18
Afghan Air Force T-004 SFG1007 An-26
Afghan Air Force T-005 SFG1006 An-24

Remark: some An-12 transports are equipped with Soviet-designed bomb racks that could carry up to 38 250-kilogram bombs.

Ariana Afghan AL CCCP-87255 Yak-40
Ariana Afghan AL YA-BAG 7306602 An-24
Ariana Afghan AL YA-BAH 17306709 An-24
Ariana Afghan AL YA-BAL 14105 An-26
Ariana Afghan AL YA-BAN 14304 An-26
Ariana Afghan AL YA-BAO 14305 An-26
Unconfirmed CIS YA-DAA AN12353 An-12
Polet Russian AC YA-DAB 5342801 An-12
Ariana Afghan AL YA-DAG 87304504 An-24
Ariana Afghan AL YA-DAM 104-04 An-24
Ariana Afghan AL YA-FAU 20343 Boeing727
Ariana Afghan AL YA-FAW 19619 Boeing727
Ariana Afghan AL YA-GAX 331 DHC6
Ariana Afghan AL EP-CPG 748 Tu-154
Ariana Afghan AL YA-DAF An-24
Ariana Afghan AL YA-DAJ 47309603 An-24
Ariana Afghan AL YA-FAY 22289 Boeing727
Tyumenaviatrans YA-87486 9441438 Yak-40

The cadre of IEAAF pilots at the time to 50% consisted of former DRAAF officers, while the other 50% were "volunteers" and "instructors" from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, some of them highly experienced. In total, however, the CO of the IEAAF, Gen. Yousaf Shah (which earlier served as MiG-21 and Su-22 in the DRAAF, and then the DGM AF, before defecting to Taliban in 1996; his vice was Gen. Jamil, former An-26-pilot, which also served in the DRAAF and the DGM AF before defecting to Taliban in 1998) haven't had more than 700 people working in his service. Main bases of the IEAAF were Kabul, Jalalabad, Shindand, and Khandahar.During 1998 and 1999, the performance of the IEAAF operations varied considerably, and it is probably this that created the "feeling" on the side of the UF/NC that the PAF was flying combat operations against them. Usually, the original IEAAF pilots were heavily dependent on the GCI system - even for the simplest air-to-ground missions, most of which were flown at levels between 1.000 and 4.000m.

Despite severe destruction and losses, the Afghan GCI system remained roughly intact and was capable of guiding and supporting fast jet fighters in the area of Mazar-e-Sharif, Taloqan, and Kabul. Taliban pilots were known to be heavily reliant on the GCI from the monitoring of their communications, but in 1999 and 2000 this changed: suddenly, the pilots appeared which need not as much GCI-support. Some of these pilots had very good situational awareness, and their attacks were exceptionally precise. In some cases it was noticed, that some targets were hit by such pilots first, followed by the less experienced ones, which would try to hit the same place, marked by the smoke and dust from the earlier attacks.

The IRAAF in 2001

The year 2001, the so-called "Taliban Air Force" - actually the air force of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan = IRAAF - started with eight operational Su-22s, eight MiG-21s, two intact and two inoperational L-39s and a total of 11 Mi-8 helicopters. Some reports said that there are also Mi-17s, but no traces of these could be found. By the time, there were still around 700 people working in the IRAAF, which operated from airfields at Kabul (very seldom: the field is foremost used for civilian and transport flights), Jalalabad, Shindand and Khandahar, although there should also be at least three or four additional - let’s call them so - "dispersal" sites as well.

United Front/Northern Alliance/Northern Coalition

Somewhat more was known about the forces of what was then called the "United Front" (formerly so-called "Northern Coalition" aka "Northern Alliance"). The leader of the UF was still Ahmad Shah Masood (sometimes spelled also as "Ahmadshah"), with the HQ is at Khwaja Bahauddin, near the border with Tajikistan. The core of the UF (which had somewhere between 12.000 and 15.000 fighters) consisted of the Uzbek militia under Abdul Rashid Dostam (now active again in northern Afghanistan); Hazara Force (Shi’ia under Karim Khalili and Mohaqeq active in Bamian and Yakaolang Provinces); Pushtunis under Haji Abdul Qadir (Kunar and Nangrahar Provinces), and there are two other small fractions, close to Masood, under Ismail Khan (Ghor and Herat Provinces) and Atta Mohammad (in Darrah-e-Suf valley).

There was actually no "air force" of the UF, but rather a group of former DRAAF pilots and technicians, which were using two Mi-8s (black "555" and white "607"), originally taken over by Massoud's forces from the DRAAF in 1992, and five "second-hand" Mi-17s (including black "451"), purchased from Tajikistan in winter 2000/2001. Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters were instrumental for UF operations, as a good deal of the logistics system of that organization is completely dependable on them.

In the area controlled by the UF, namely, there were hardly any roads, and those still intact were either in range of the enemy artillery or sensitive to enemy air operations. The UF also still had the two Mi-35s (black "89" and "101"), which were not much flown, partially due to the lack of spares but also because of the lack of fuel and ammo. Their pilots, Capt. Abdul Nai and Capt. Muh Amin, were meanwhile highly experienced, however, and their operations against the Taliban in the Badakhshan, in September 2000, were also highly influential in stopping that offensive. During the same offensive, the UF suffered one of its heaviest losses, when its sole An-12B was captured by Taliban at Khwaja Gar. Since then, it seems that Iran has supplied three An-32s to the Hizb-I-Wahdat Shi'as (Islamic Unity Party), which supported the UF against Taliban.These aircraft were reported to be frequently found at the tarmac in Dushanbe (Tajikistan), and should have been maintained and flown by Uzbek pilots. The UF controlled the airfield at Baghram, where over 40 derelict airframes could be found (most of them MiG-21s, but also a number of Su-22s, Il-28s, An-12s and even two Mi-24As).

Foreign Interventions in 2001

Different non-Afghan powers remained highly influential in Afghanistan. Most important of them were Pakistan, USA, Tajikistan, and Iran. Pakistan created Taliban and was helping planning and organizing most of Taliban operations. Islamabad has to a very high degree of influence on Taliban decision-making, and was also responsible for spares, ammo and supplies. In addition, there were several reports about the PAF being active over Afghanistan, with its A-5Cs of the 16th and 26th Sqns having flown numerous bombing missions against NC/NA/UF positions in early 2001.The USA, which were not cooperating with Pakistan any more, were all the time negotiating with the Taliban regime, trying to bribe them with $ millions of annual "help" in order to ascertain rights to build an oil-pipeline from the Caspian Sea over Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan to Pakistan, in order to surpass Iran.

In an unbelievable irony, the USA was thus ignoring the significance for the influence of the al-Qaida structure present in Afghanistan for the stability and survival of the Afghan regime: bearing in mind what happened on 11 September 2001, no cooperation with Taliban - and thus, indirectly, al-Qaida - against Iran seems logical today.Tajikistan was actually the main basis of anti-Taliban forces and one of the reasons the Taliban haven't conquered the whole Afghanistan so far. In Tajikistan a Russian Federation's contingent of supposedly 25.000 troops was - and still is - stationed (concentrated around the 201 Motorized Division of the Afghan War fame), together with 12 of Su-25BM/UMs (186 IShAP, stationed at Kokayty), Mi-8s, Mi-24s (11 OVP?) and transport aircraft. Additionally, An-12 transports, Mi-8s of the 535 Wing (based at Rostow na Donu), and Mi-8PPA/Mi-8SMVs of the 286 OVP (usually based at Zernograd) were noticed several times at Dushanbe as well.

Russian aircraft have flown a number of combat missions over Afghanistan between 1992 and 1995, and there are continuous rumours about them continuing to do so time and again.Otherwise, Russians were - together with Iranians - the main suppliers of ammo and spares for the UF. There were repeated reports about operations of IRIAF RF-4Es over Afghanistan, and transport missions of IRIAF Il-76s - escorted by F-14As - for the UF. In 1998 the IRIAF also established the new "Tactical Fighter Base" (TFB) 14 at Mashhad, where the 140th TFW, equipped with 24 ex-Iraqi Mirage F.1EQs was stationed. It was claimed for this unit ´to have flown dozens of missions against different Taliban positions and drug-smuggler bands, and one of them was shot down by Afghan MANPADs during some operations along the Afghan border, in the summer of 2001.In addition to all the mentioned parties also Uzbekistan became involved. The aircraft of the Uzbekistan Air Force have flown a number of missions against Taliban: on 6 June 2001, for example, an UzAF Su-24 was shot down while attacking Taliban armoured infantry unit near Heiratan.

The crew of the plane was killed, together with a number of Taliban they bombed. Tajik AF helicopters are also known to have been very active in flying supplies to the UF.Last, but not least, Pakistani sources say that Indians were involved in the war on the UF side as well. What could be confirmed at the time was that the Indian-manned military field-hospital was established near Parkhar, in Tajikistan, for which was known to be one of UF bases too. In that sense, it can be said, that Indians are eventually supplying medicine to UF and taking care of its injured, but it was never confirmed that Indians were actively training UF troops or supplying them with ammunition.

The End.

Document was rearranged by Horus for www.defence.pk in November 2013.


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Very well documented and outlined events.... Any clue how many anza's were transferred to taliban?

I'm sure you'll enjoy this piece in regards to the F-16 debate we having.

Mind you, the actual number of soviet jets shot down by PAF is still classified. PAF never claimed jets it shot down in 'hot persuit' or the ones that fell in the Afghan territory.

Do you mean the stingers?

They were, handed over to ISI through Chacklala Air Base. They were given to ISI's 'Covert Operations Directorate' which already had trained hand picked, battle proven Mujahideen on simulators at their facility in the border areas.

ISI's 'Afghan Bureau' was based in Rawalpindi which did the mission planning, and post execution damage analysis, using imagery from U-2s stationed at Peshawar AFB.

Stingers were very carefully distributed, and thanks to the training provided the Mujahideen used it to lethal effect, scoring 'hits' with a factor of 7/10.

The planners at ISI used very aggressive, demoralizing tactics, attacking large bases in Kabul and other places.

Mujs will mostly kill their pilot POWs as they were deemed responsible for the air borne terror inflicted upon Afghan villages.

In one instance a team of ISI's 'Infiltration Unit' [Under cover Special Forces Operators] embedded with a Muj party, found a rotting dead body of a Soviet Su-25 Frogfoot pilot, still stuck in its ejection seat with his Torekov-33 pistol hanging in his hand.

He was afraid of capture and execution owing to the notorious bombardment of Afghan civilians by the Frogfoots.

It forced them to fly faster and higher which meant that they lost their operational edge. Then they would infiltrate Pakistani airspace, only to find the F-16s hunting their tailpipes.
I studied at a naval private college in karachi. My english teacher was a X fighter pIlot and he used to fly F6 near the afghan border. He told me F6 only had 45-50mins fuel once they were airborne thus they were only stationed there to just the russians know that we are defending our air space, but practically they were useless in a intercepter role.
Hi ,I amnew member here just wanna ask about K Chaudry,A Hussein and S Kamal photos from15 th Sq who damaged MiG-23 and 3 Su-25 during Afgan war. thx
Hi ,I amnew member here just wanna ask about K Chaudry,A Hussein and S Kamal photos from15 th Sq who damaged MiG-23 and 3 Su-25 during Afgan war. thx

Please provide full names.
My source is ACIG (Pakistani Air to air victories) , they have not full name
I am only can provide date

A Hussein 11 Feb 86
S Kamal 12.04.86
S Kamal 12.04.86
K Chaudry 12.04.86

they are from 15th Sq thx

@Najam Khan | @hassan1 Gents can we get some help here pls?
My source is ACIG (Pakistani Air to air victories) , they have not full name
I am only can provide date

A Hussein 11 Feb 86
S Kamal 12.04.86
S Kamal 12.04.86
K Chaudry 12.04.86

they are from 15th Sq thx
Group Captain Shahid Kamal and Squadron Leader Khalid Choudhry were allegedly flying F-16s during that period so they would have belonged to No-14 rather then No-15 Squadron which back then was equipped with F-6s.
But who is make damage the Flogger and frogfoot during that day? thx

Group Captain Shahid Kamal and Squadron Leader Khalid Choudhry were allegedly flying F-16s during that period so they would have belonged to No-14 rather then No-15 Squadron which back then was equipped with F-6s.
there is a LM promotional document for the F-16 which states (at that time) that IDAF and PAF were the only 2 airforces which had used their F-16s in combat. the world already knows what the IDAF was able to achieve with its F-16s but the little know fact (as claimed by LM) is that PAF scored 16 kills with its F-16s.

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