By Raja G Mujtaba

Defence Forces of any country are the pride of the nation. During war they defend the frontiers be on land, air or sea and during peace time, they bring laurels by participating in professional competitions. It was in October this year that 35 Frontier Force Regiment participated in a competition in the UK where 80 other countries were taking part. It was a four day exercise in which the participants had to display their professional competence in the various spheres of military training. 35 FF stood first and bagged the trophy and brought honours to Pakistan.

This was followed by China Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in which Pakistan Air Force (PAF) participated with full valour.

PAF, one of the front line air forces of the world, continues to add to its fleet, the best possible air machines in view of its requirements, and endeavors to gain par excellence. Presently it is committed to manufacturing of JF-17 Thunder aircraft, an air machine which is cost affective, easy to maintain and equipped with adequate accessories. On invitation of Government of China and PLAAF, Pakistan Air Force participated in the 8th China Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition-2010, organized at Zhuhai by the Republic of China. Zhuhai is a southern coastal city of China neighboring Macau. The exhibition continued from 16 to 21 November, 2010 and was also graced by the participation of eight heads of different air forces of the world.

PAF contingent comprising equipment and personnel, more than hundred in numbers from all ranks, participated in this show with great fervour and enthusiasm. Three JF-17 Thunder Aircraft, built in Pakistan, and ten K-8 aircraft (basic trainer), along with PAF airmen, including 5 lady officers, three of them were pilots from GD (P) and two from engineering branch were showcased.

While at Zhuhai, the contingent after organizing its equipment, displayed it at the allotted place and got settled.  The initial three days of the show were committed for seminars and conferences, where high officials of aviation related companies and firms, participated and showed greater concern over the activity. However, the last three days were dedicated for the common masses, where people belonging to different strata of society enjoyed the display of variety of air planes and equipment; including fighter and commercial air machines of different kind. There had been spectacular movements when aerobatics teams of different countries performed their feats during air display. The PAF’s JF-17 Thunder appeared in the air just after the departure of JF-10 of PLAAF. The maneouvers performed by PAF JF-17 Thunder won the whole hearted applauses of the witnessing masses. The long clapping, cheers on their faces and gestures manifested their level of happiness. Owing to the marvelous maneouvers and flying feats displayed by PAF pilots made the spectators spell bound, they continued waving their hands, chanted slogans in praise of Pakistan where the JF-17 Thunder became the Star of the Show.

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The famous “SHERDIL” (Lion Hearted) team, exhibited its professionalism by performing different aerobatics, both the aircraft, JF-17 Thunder and K-8, provided great pleasure and happiness to the masses. The people at the arena were immensely pleased rather thrilled by the performance of PAF air crew as they displayed different maneuvers and flying feats. The SHERDIL formation got the biggest applause. The public at the show acclaimed PAF pilots for their flying tactics, maneuvers and handling of aircraft. Their longer clapping, waving hands and various gestures were the manifestations of their happiness. It was for the first time that PAF SHERDIL team comprising nine K-8 aircraft participated in any World Air Exhibition.

The foundation of the ‘Sherdil’ was laid way back in the 50s when in 1958, a formation of 16 F 86s Sabers performed a loop in diamond formation. This was the biggest formation of that time anywhere in the world. As a child, I was a witness of this feat that was performed before King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan.  This formation was followed by solo displays and napalm bombing to display the firepower for the visiting dignitary.

The exhibition was organized on an area spreading over 23,000 square meters that fetched over six hundred exhibitors from the world. Over 70 types of fighter and commercial aircraft were displayed in this arena which made the exhibition a marvelous specter to witness. It included participation by world famous exhibitors like Boeing, Airbus, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce etc. The air display added to the beauty manifested by the ground display.

Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, CAS Pakistan Air Force, attended the show on 16 November, 2010. He while talking to media men expressed that Pakistan-China joint production of JF-17 Thunder fighter jet has bright prospects in the international aviation market. It has many added features which make it much more attractive than any other fighter aircraft of its category. He also commented that it has a low price tag and much less maintenance and operational cost as compared to other planes of its kind that makes it attractive for the buyers. To a question regarding further expansion of cooperation between Pakistan Air Force and China, the PAF Air Chief, Rao Qamar Suleman replied that the two brotherly neighboring Countries had a long history of cooperation in all fields particularly the defence. He expressed the confidence that with the passage of time these bonds of friendship would further consolidate. Pakistan, having the second biggest fleet of aircraft after host China, is participating for the first time in this exhibition. As many as ten K-8 trainer aircraft and three JF-17 Thunder are taking part in the show that demonstrates the all-weather and time-tested friendship between the two countries. While talking about the aircraft, PAF Air Chief, commented that it had all state-of-the-art features. He particularly mentioned its supreme avionics essentials for a modern combat aircraft. There is likely to be big demand of this type of aircraft in the international market, as it meets all the requirements that are needed by a modern air force, at a very affordable price.

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JF-17 Thunder was said to be the star of the show as during the air show, it was greatly applauded by the witnessing masses as it performed tremendous maneuvers, carried out aerobatics and flying feats which stirred the soul and thrilled the viewers. PAF pilots also earned lot of praises for their velour, zeal and zest. Their handling of aircraft and maneouverability was highly appreciated by the witnessing masses. The media monitored the response of the people which was prominent through their gestures, their waving of hands and slogans of happiness were indicators of their true happiness. They were highly impressed and paid tremendous tribute to the PAF pilots. The waiting of masses to witness PAF JF-17 Thunder air display, without any exaggeration, was a scene to be seen. The PAF JF-17 Thunder and Sherdil team while in the air filled the masses with joy and wonder by their flying skills and professionalism. The PAF pilots spell bound the spectators by their maneouvers and the PAF air display always enjoyed the great clapping and tremendous applause by the masses.

The closing ceremony was, indeed a scene that manifested a true and trust worthy Pak-China friendship as the pilots met pilots; the ground crew interacted with their counterparts and expressed their whole-hearted good wishes for each other. Their gestures were full of meaning and eloquence and made the meaning more clear. It needs a special mention of pilots form PLAAF who whole heartedly praised PAF pilots for their skills and professionalism displayed during the show.          


This internationally organized air exhibition has brought the two countries further closer, the interaction and performance of PAF air and ground crew along with other supporting element has proved to be an impetus in the ever growing fraternity and friendship between China and Pakistan, specially on the Air Force front.

After the show, now Pakistan is on the threshold to become a exporter of fighter jets of affordable technology for which there is a great demand in the market. 

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