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PAF Pilots Vs Indian Pilots.

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Air Marshal:

  PAF Pilots are more Aggressive as compare to IAF Pilots. The 1965 and 1971 wars shows this


Let me start with saying this, I don't want this forum to turn into a place for Indi-Paki propaganda or flaming.

Comparing pilots? A rookie of A is always worse than an expert of B. So what do you want from this discussion. We can try to evaluate the amount of training each receives. India's MiG-21 crashes were found to be caused by inadequate training. But the F-15 pilots which faced the Su-30 and Mirages seemed to be impressed by the abilities of the crew. Pakistan was forced to ground their T-37 trainers, but managed to keep adequate training, albeit on elderly types, with the exception of the K-8. I feel that the pilots in the PAF are still largely limited by their aircraft though if they should clash with the IAF again.

Maybe it is better to discuss those two conflicts in the Wars & Conflicts board?

Is aggressiveness good or bad?

I know of an "aggressive" Su-15 pilot, he rammed his aircraft into a trespassing aircraft (which turned out to be a harmless cargo flight) because he didn't want it to escape over the border and hadn't time to fly-around to employ his weapons.

Air Marshal:
 I don't want this forum to turn into a place for Indi-Paki propaganda or flaming.

 No I am not want to make their flames between these two countries , i want to make the 


PAF PILOTS on Top "PAF AN EFFICIENT AIRFORCE SECOND TO NONE" concept of Jehad the core and base of Pakistan and this is what make our forces different from other countries.

Air Marshal:
The PAF Pilots Vs IAF Pilot

“Great pilots are made not born…A man may possess good eyesight, sensitive hands and perfect coordination, but the end product is only fashioned by steady coaching, much practice and experience.
– Air Vice Marshal J.E. Johnson, RAF

There seems to be a general consensus of opinion today that in a comparison of strength between the Indian and Pakistani air forces, the Indian advantage in numbers is counterbalanced by the Pakistani advantage in personnel, training, and tactics. Since India has been successful in narrowing the technology gap, which Pakistan possessed over India for three decades from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, some Pakistani defence policymakers have put even more emphasis on the perceived Pakistani advantage in personnel. In fact, some would argue that the Pakistani fighter pilot, his training, and his tactics are so superior that even though the Indians have now caught up in technology, the Pakistan Air Force still has an overall edge in combat capability as long as the quantitative edge does not proceed more than 3:1 in India’s favour.

This article examines that argument and provides some answers to difficult questions surfaced by this issue. Is it true that the Pakistani fighter pilot is inherently better than his Indian counterpart? Are Pakistani training programmes and tactics better? If the comparisons are true, how much of an advantage does the Pakistani pilot maintain, and how does one measure the difference? Is this advantage widening or narrowing? Finally, and most importantly, once the advantage is determined, how does one go about improving the PAF to ensure an even greater advantage?

To begin a comparison of the two countries' fighter pilots' capabilities is not an easy task. While it is quite common for a defence analyst to compare air forces based on the quantity and quality of weapons systems, it is very rare to find an objective study of pilot capabilities. In fact, most analyses quantify combat capability as a product of numerous factors, such as aircraft, logistics, maintenance, munitions, etc. But the human factor (pilot ability, training, and tactics) is rarely included because its measurement is very subjective and its impact on the equation so little understood. Few will argue, however, that differences in pilot capability do exist, and some aspects of the human factor should be included in the equation if we are to achieve accurate comparisons in  combat capability.

The human factor, as it relates to Indian and Pakistani air combat capability, constitutes three main variables – (i) the inherent ability of the individual pilot, (ii) his training, and (iii) his tactics. These three variables, when added together, produce a pilot or "human factor" input to the overall effectiveness of a sortie or mission.


The third variable in the human factor to be discussed is tactics. Although tactics are not a specific human quality, they are designed and employed by the pilot and therefore impact upon how well the pilot can employ his aircraft. In 1976, the Combat Commanders’ School (CCS), the PAF’s elite fighter weapons and tactics school at Sargodha began experimenting with new fighter formations and tactics. These formations and tactics were a composite of lessons learned in air-to-air combat in the 1965 and 1971 wars with India and the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars. Although the formation was different from the old tactics, the most significant difference was the philosophical change in the wingman's duties. CCS detached the wingman from a very restrictive cover position ("fighting wing") on the leader to a more active role, manoeuvring independently, yet in co-ordination, with the leader. For the past 25 years, the PAF has been training with and refining such fluid attack tactics. In principle, Pakistani fighter pilots are free to design, test, and fly almost any variation of formations and tactics that they or their squadron wish to try. However, in practice, due to limited sorties, safety restrictions and a system that always requires training to the lowest denominator, tactics development today is in fact spotty and often neglected.

As noted earlier, the Indians are attempting to improve their tactics with each new generation of aircraft, and they are just beginning to give their pilots more independence. On the surface this appears to be a ten-year lag in tactical development. However, when one considers the Indian historical doctrine of mass, breakthrough, and strict command and control, the idea of large, inflexible, and slow manoeuvring formations may be more design than simple lack of progress. What may look to the Pakistani fighter pilot as an unimaginative tactic may to the Indian fighter commander be as sophisticated and advanced as his doctrines, force structure, and mission would dictate. And who is to say that fluid attack and independent manoeuvring would work better than regimental control in their battle schemes? In either case, suffice it to say that both the Pakistani and Indian tactics will change with the advent of new aircraft, missiles, and radar. What worked yesterday in the F-86 will not work in the F-16. The tactic used to defeat the Hawker Hunter or the MiG-21 will probably not be the best tactic to defeat the Su-30 or the MiG-29. The PAF has always been willing to change tactics, however, tactical development, evaluation, and implementation seem to be taking more time, money, and effort these days. And the Indians are not standing still. With their new equipment, most notably their Mirage 2000s, MiG-29s and Su-30s, they are experimenting with new tactics. So even in the tactics variable, the PAF advantage is no longer as significant as it used to be 15 years ago.

Thus, in a brief examination of the main variables that make up the human factor, it can be seen that although in each case no quantitative measurement can be made, there is reason to believe that the Pakistanis are slightly ahead of the Indians. However, whereas 10 or 15 years ago this advantage may have been quite large, the Indians seem to be narrowing the gap in all cases. PAF pilot selection and personnel management policies have not changed, and training and tactics initiatives, while dynamic after Afghanistan, have pretty much stagnated. In the meantime, the Indians have been plodding along in their inimitable way, slowly increasing their training realism and testing new tactical philosophies to match their weapons improvements. If Pakistan is to maintain any advantage that it may have in the human factor, drastic steps need to be taken soon.

We can increase tactical combat capability vis-à-vis India in a number of ways: buy more aircraft, buy better aircraft, build new  aircraft, radar, and missiles, increase the spares, etc. The one factor, however, that could have the greatest impact, and yet is probably the least expensive and most easily changed, is the human factor. By launching an aggressive and dynamic programme to upgrade the fighter pilot force, the PAF could drastically alter the combat equation in its favour for years. Simple initiatives and policy changes affecting the human factor variables could make PAF fighter combat capability increase exponentially.

The inherent ability of the fighter pilot is one of the most important variables in the human factor, the easiest to change, and yet the most neglected. As an old fighter pilot once eloquently remarked, "You can train a hamburger, but when you're through, you still get a hamburger." Fighter pilot training today is a demanding process and without a good product to start with, no amount of excellent training will produce a quality fighter pilot. Therefore, the selection process must be changed to be more aggressive, more competitive, and even more selective than it already is. Large groups of candidates should be screened with sophisticated, modern testing procedures High academic grades and a perfectly healthy body and perfect vision should not be a qualification but a prerequisite for entry into the PAF. Additional factors should be present: commitment and dedication; perseverance; quick-thinking and quick-reflexes; an obsession with flying; and the pursuit of excellence. Large pilot attrition rates should be experienced in the early phases of training. Needless to say, specialized fighter training should begin early. At every stage of training, competition, and ratings based on fighter pilot performance should be used for selection to top fighter pilot positions.

The PAF personnel management and rating system needs a thorough review. Personnel assignment policies need to be changed so they can respond to the needs of combat capability and not to an arbitrary "good deal/bad deal" list. In other words, if an F-7 instructor job needs filling, you don't take the best F-16 pilot to fill it just because he's due a "bad deal." More sensitivity needs to be paid to the policies that force early rotations and create turbulence in the units. In today's fighter force, it takes two to three years to upgrade a flight lead and another two to three years to get good at it. Most new fighter pilots don't stay in their first squadron more than two to three years, and many don't remain in their first assignment aircraft longer than five years. The result is that most operational fighter squadrons are continually upgrading new pilots, and very few squadrons reach a level of high combat capability. What is required is a conscious effort to keep good fighter pilots in the same aircraft, same mission, same unit for longer periods of time. Gone are the days when we can afford a universally assignable pilot, or even a "generic fighter pilot."

To make these changes in the pilot selection process and personnel rating system requires major policy changes but should cost relatively little. When it comes to improving the training variable, however, costs do enter into the picture. Quality training is expensive, but expensive training is usually cheaper in the long run due to increased combat capability and a more efficient and effective fighting force. Yet nothing is more expensive than a lost war. New, innovative methods of training need to be developed to stay ahead of the Indians. State-of-the art combat simulators that rival the most advanced air-to-air training are available today. More air combat manoeuvring instrumentation (ACMI) and electronic combat ranges are needed. More flying time, range time, realistic scenarios, and composite force training are all high priorities. Actual combat is not the time to discover that you need more training.

At first glance, one would assume that tactics, unlike training, would be very cheap to change and would simply require a tactics manual change. However, tactics like the other variables are very difficult to measure, and in order to quantify the advantage of one tactic over another, testing is required. In-depth tactics testing is very time-consuming and costly. Conducting a valid tactics evaluation may take up to two years and hundreds of sorties. Here again "state-of-the-art" combat simulators can be extremely helpful in speeding up this process. The PAF’s Thomson Training & Simulation (TT&S) F-16 combat simulator is a prime example of how combat simulators can be used to simulate realistic combat engagements better than could have been done in the real aircraft because of range, safety restrictions and costs. Tactics development, testing, and evaluation are too important to continue in the slow pace of only live-mission testing. A realistic state-of-the-art combat simulator similar to the one used for the F-16 should be devoted full time to tactics testing and evaluations. Like training, tactics development is expensive, but it needs to be improved if the PAF is to increase its advantage over the Indians.

An important fact which needs to be understood is that the quality of the human factor and training are intrinsically linked. Although the inherent human qualities are important, much can be achieved by training. In this sense, training is the crucial ingredient which distinguishes a good pilot from an average one.

In addition to the above three variables, there are nine other sub-variables which are part of the elements mentioned above but can be distinctly categorized. These sub-variables are: (i) intelligence, (ii) quick reflexes, (iii) quick decision-making abilities, (iv) psyche and attitude, (v) aggressiveness, (vi) training equipment, (vii) pilot age, (viii) pilot-to-cockpit ratio and (ix) situational awareness. While the first two are more general and self-explanatory and more a part of inherent ability, the latter seven are more distinct and need some explaining. So we shall ignore the first two and look at the remaining seven.

Quick Decision-Making Abilities

This is a human trait which is grossly underestimated and overlooked, especially in the context of fighter flying, whereas it is this trait which, in the heat of combat, can make the difference between life and death and between success and failure. The ability to make quick decisions has gained more importance with the advent of the jet age which has reduced time variables many times. Time-on-Target (TOT) has become shorter and combat aircraft reach each other sooner rather than later.

A PAF F-7 pilot who makes the right decision quickly is more likely to defeat an IAF pilot in a superior aircraft like the MiG-29 or the Su-30 who doesn’t make the right decision or makes the right decision by taking too long to make it or worst still takes too long a time to make a decision and ends up with the wrong decision. Likewise, an IAF pilot flying a MiG-21 will be able to do the same with a PAF F-16 pilot if the latter was to commit the same mistake.

There are more than a thousand and one scenarios which could be cited in support of this. To go into detail here is beyond the purview of this article and it is the responsibility of three institutions within the PAF to cater to this subject; No. 37 (Combat Training) Wing, Mianwali, the Combat Commanders’ School (CCS), Sargodha and the Air War College, Karachi. These institutions are responsible for imparting air defence (and offence) theory and doctrine and fighter combat tactics and manoeuvring to their students.

This type of thinking is non-existent in the PAF. The last thing on the mind of PAF pilots is what they will do when they leave the Air Force. For Pakistani pilots, the Air Force is the destination, not a waypoint. If a pilot is flying combat planes for bread he’s had it. The last thing you want is your pilots going into combat with the thought of better remuneration, retirement and pension plans occupying their minds.


A good fighter pilot must have one outstanding trait – aggressiveness. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog." Aggressiveness is fundamental to success in air combat, especially in air-to-air combat, and the fighter pilot who goes on the defensive is usually the first one to be shot down. PAF pilots never go into the air thinking they will lose. This is part of the PAF psyche and this is how Pakistani fighter pilots are trained to think. In air combat tactics, aggressiveness is the keynote of success. The principle is simple, the enemy on the defensive gives you the advantage, as he is trying to evade you and not to shoot you down.

Aggressiveness is not to be confused with recklessness and downright stupidity. Aggressiveness must be weighed in with the chances of success. This is an art and the Pakistanis and Israelis do it very well. This ‘calculated aggressiveness’ is very different from plain ‘raw aggressiveness’. If simple aggressiveness were the key to success then many of the world’s air forces would enjoy the same reputation as the Pakistani and Israeli air forces.

PAF pilots are more aggressive in the air than their Indian counterparts and this is primarily due to what is termed the “cornered cat” syndrome. Pakistan is a country which lacks strategic depth. The term “tactical retreat” does not exist in the PAF vocabulary, nor for that matter in the vocabulary of any other branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces. For a tactical retreat over Pakistan would be suicidal for the PAF. It could well mean having an air base to land on and not having one to land on. The Indian Air Force can afford to lose its airfields at Pathankot, Adampur, Chandigarh, Halwara, Ambala, Hindan, Jaiselmer, Jodhpur and Jamnagar. All these IAF airfields are located within 300 km of the Pakistan border. Even in the likelihood of the IAF losing these airfields, it would still have 10 other major airfields to utilize located further afield. On the other hand, the majority of the PAF’s major operational bases all come within 300 km of the Indian border, including PAF Base, Sargodha.

Credit: Rai Muhammad Saleh Azam


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