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Pakistani Combat Pilots


The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has fought more airwars than any other country in South Asia. Starting with two wars with India, Pakistani pilots took part in two Arab-Israeli wars and also against the Afghan Air Force during the Afghan fighting. Faced with a good number of opportunities its no wonder that they fared pretty well in notching up multiple kills. After sifting through records, The following stand out :

  1. Sqn Ldr Mohammed Mahmud Alam    1965 Indo-Pakistan War , 4 Kills.
  2. Sqn Ldr Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafique  1965 Indo-Pakistan War , 3 Kills
  3. Sqn Ldr Saif ul Azam  1965 Indo Pakistan War and 1967 Arab-Israeli War. 4 Kills
  4. Flt Lt. Salim Beg Mirza 1971 Indo Pakistan War, 2 Kills
  5. Flt Lt. Khalid Mahmood 1988 Afghan War. 4 Kills

Sqn Ldr Mohammed Mahmud Alam , SJ and Bar Sqn Ldr Alam was the Commanding Officer of No.11 PAF Squadron flying Sabres during the 65 Conflict. Most certainly the top scoring pilot of that particular War, Alam had notched up Four Confirmed Hunters and One Probable Hunter Kill during several encounters with the Indian Air Force. Undoubtedly an Experienced and skilled pilot, all his victims were Hunter fighters and by a coincidence, all the Hunters though shot down in different occasions belonged to the same Squadron. No.7 IAF "Battle Axes". Alam shot down his first Hunter on Sep 6th, 1965 in a raid on the Indian Air Field at Adampur. Intercepted by Four Hunters of the IAF, Alam got onto the tail of Sqn Ldr A K "Peter" Rawlley. Rawlley lost control of the aircraft trying to evade Alam and struck the ground and got killed. The very next day, Alam bought down two Hunters which were exiting from a raid on Sargodha. Both the Pilots, Sqn Ldr Bhagwat and Fg Off J S Brar were killed. Alam scored again in the war on Sep 16th, while leading a raid on the airfield at Halwara. Alam bought down Fg Off Farokh Bunsha's Hunter although losing his wingman to another Hunter in the process.

Alam's feat of being the top scorer of the conflict is however marred by his inaccurate claims. At the end of  the war, he had put in claims for Nine Hunters shot down whereas Indian Records do not support it. and this was made worse by the wartime propaganda efforts. In reality Alam has Four Confirmed kills. there is a dispute about another Hunter loss, Sqn Ldr O N Kacker who ejected in Pakistan on Sep 7th, is credited to Alam, by the PAF. The Indian Air Force says otherwise, Kacker was lost miles away from the area where Alam claimed his kill. The debate rages on. If Alam did shoot Kacker down, then He can rightfully claim to be the first Jet Ace from the Subcontinent.

In the final reckoning, there is no doubt that Alam remains the top scoring pilot of the Pakistan Air Force in its wars against India. Alam did not fly in the 71 Conflict.

Confirmed Kills :  4
Probable Kills : 1
Unconfirmed Claims : 4

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Sqn Ldr Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafique ,HJ and SJ . Rafiqui opened up the Air War in 1965 when he led a two Sabre Formation that intercepted a formation of Four Vampires from the composite No.45/220 Indian Air Force Squadron. Rafique shot down two Vampires flown by Sqn Ldr A K Bhagwagar and Bharadwaj and while his Wingman shot down another flown by Flt Lt V M Joshi. A lone aircraft from the this ill-fated Vampire formation flown by Fg Off Sodhi made it back to the base.

Rafiquis third kill came on Sept 6th, when he led a raid on the Halwara airbase. He jumped the Hunter CAP at Halwara and shot down Fg Off P S Pingale, who ejected soon after his aircraft got hit. But Rafiqui himself became a victim soon after , he failed to see that Pingale's wingman had worked back onto his tail and attacked him . Fg Off A R Gandhi managed to damage Rafiqui's aircraft. In the last desperate throes of his doomed Sabre, Rafiqui tried to eject, but his aircraft hit the ground before he could do so.

He was awarded the Sitara E Juraat for Bravery and the Hilaal E Juraat for Leadership.

Confirmed Kills :  3

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Sqn Ldr Saiful Azam SJ Saiful Azam is a  not heard of much in aircombat. Azam has the unique distinction of having kills against airforces of two different countries. as a young flying officer during the 65 Conflict, Saiful Azam managed to shoot down an IAF Gnat on Sept 18th, a rarity as such the Gnat was seldom lost in Aircombat. his victim Fg Off V Mayadev ejected to become a POW.

Azam participated two years later in the Arab Israeli conflict of June 1967. deputed to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, flying Hunters, the RJAF Hunters were flown out to the Iraqi Airbase of H-3 in an attempt to put them out of range of Israeli Air Force. It was here he accomplished a unique feat, flying in a Hawker Hunter as a No.2   His formation intercepted an Israeli formation of Four Vautours and Two Mirage IIIs.  One of the Mirage IIIs was  flown by Capt. Gideon Dror. Dror   shot down Azam's Wingman, but himself fell to Azam's Guns. Dror ejected to be taken POW. Moments later,  Azam intercepted the formation of four Vantour Bombers and bought down one of them flown by Capt Golan, who ejected. . Azam had earlier bought down  a Super Mystere the previous day over Jordan. Azam , being a Bengali did not fly in the 71 conflict.

In the final reckoning Azam ties up with Alam in terms of kills, but his tally has a range of kills including the enviable credit of a Mach 2 Mirage III Fighter.

Confirmed Kills :  4

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Flt Lt. Salim Beg Mirza Flt Lt Salim Beg Mirza  has to his credit two Combat Victories against the Indian Air Force, both of them during the 1971 War.  Mirza was involved in a Hot Scramble from Peshawar trying to intercept an incoming Hunter raid on the second day of the war on 4 Dec 71.   The hunters were operating at the extreme range of operations and Mirza bought down one Hunter flown by Fg Off K P Muralidharan. 

Ten Days later in a raid on Srinagar in which he was the fighter escort in a Six Sabre Mission, they were met by a solitary Gnat flown by Fg Off N S Sekhon. Though Sekhon got involved in aircombat with all the Six Sabres, It was Salim Beg Mirza who is  credited with downing Sekhon. thus getting his second Confirmed victim of the bar. Both of Salim Beg Mirza's victims were killed in the confict.

Confirmed Kills :  2
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Flt Lt. Khalid Mahmood Flt Lt. Khalid Mahmood is from Contemporary times, one of the top scoring pilots in the world to   have notched up multiple kills on the F-16. Khalid Mahmood flew several sorties against the Afghan Air Force, bringing down on one occasion, One  MiG-23 Flogger and another MiG-23 as a probable with AIM 9 Sidewinder Missiles in a single sortie, . He bought down One Su-22 Fitter later.

He was also involved in an interception against an An-26 Transport, This An-26 pilot showed all signs of surrendering/defecting when intercepted. but crashed trying to land .

Confirmed Kills : 2
Unconfirmed  Kill : 1
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Other PAF Pilots with Multiple Kill Claims that are not established through records.

Name of the Pilot Claims Remarks

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Flt Lt Imtiaz Bhatti

2 Vampires over Chamb 1 Sept 65. Only the loss of One Vampire is confirmed . Another Vampire was also lost in the same area, but is credited to AAA fire.

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Flt Lt Cecil Choudhary

3 Hunters over Halwara 6 Sept 65,
1 Canberra on 16 Sept 65,
1 Sukhoi-7 on 11 Dec 71.
He is credited with Downing Fg Off A R Gandhi on 6 Sept 71. but the remaining claims are not confirmed.
Flt Lt Shamsul Haq 1 Hunter on 4 Dec 71 at Dacca in a F-86
1 Su-7 on 4 Dec 71 in a F-86
2 Hunters on 4 Dec 71 in a F-86
All Claims are unconfirmed with the possible exception of a solitary Hunter. IAF Claims the only Su-7 lost in the east was due to AA Fire.
Sqn Ldr Abdul Hamid Quadri 2 Su-22 Fitters in the Afghan War. Only One Su-22 wreckage was recovered.The other was observed to be on fire and exiting into Afghanistan.

Note: All Ranks mentioned above are at the time of their first kills.


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