Friday, February 23, 2018

23 March: From F-104 to JF17 Thunder

23 March is an important national day in the life of Pakistan -   It is the day when on 23 March 1940 the Pakistan Resolution was unanimously put forward in a historic meeting of the All India Muslim League during its annual meeting at Lahore's Manto Park (later renamed as Iqbal Park after Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, who for the first time gave the idea of a separate Muslim state to be carved out of the British India as he could see that Muslims and Hindus could coexist  - something that has now abundantly seen in the present day India where Hindu hardliners are deadly against Muslims and torture them in one way or the other) to demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the British India. It is also the day when the first constitution of Pakistan was adopted.

The relevant part of the resolution is as under:
No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.
It is also the day in 1956 when Pakistan was declared Islamic Republic of Pakistan from the Dominion of Pakistan and broke away the remnants of the British yoke which it continued even after partition from the British India on 14 August 1947. Initially the day was called the Republic Day but later integrating the two milestone events of same day in 1940 and 1956, it started to be known as Pakistan Day.

To commemorate this memorable day with honour and dignity, a Pakistan Day parade by the armed forces of Pakistan is held.
For me, this day has a tinge of nostalgia as it was this day in 1964 when I witnessed the armed forces parade for the first time at Fortress Stadium Lahore. And the hallmark of the day was the fly past of the supersonic Lockheed F-104 jets, known as the Starfighter, which had then been recently acquired from USA through Jordan. In fact at that time, Pakistan was the only country outside NATO which had been supplied with this modern aircraft of its time. The whole crowd of spectators applauded with a thunderous clap when the Starfighters flew past over our heads.

Later it was the same aircraft, which broke the sound barrier around 11 AM on 6 September 1965 - a thunderous noise that announced the breaking out of war between India and Pakistan. I was in school when the sound barrier was broken and it was soon after that our school was closed and we were all sent home.



That was 1964 - but as the 23 March 2018 dawns in Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force proudly flies its indigenously produced JF-17 Thunder lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft, which has been developed as a joint venture by Pakistan and China, and inducted in Pakistan Air Force in 2010.  So far about 100 of block I and Ii versions of JF-17 Thunder have entered in active service of the Pakistan Air Force. 
And plans are afoot to work on the block-III with many advancements in avionics, ordnance carrying capability and cruising range. Powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or Klimov RD-93 after burning turbofan, it has a top speed of Mach 1.6 and is equipped with  air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel auto-cannon.

And that is not all - in the meantime Pakistan Army and Navy too have undergone substantial changes and news weapons and platforms have been added. Thus today's parade shows up a huge weapon show in the parade ground outside Islamabad with lush green Margalla hills in the back ground.

The entire nation stand behind its gallant armed forces which are not only the single largest contributor the UN Peace Keeping Missions across the world, but is also one of the logest embattled army with the terroists and miscreants mostly coming from Afghanistan, targetting and falling back. The effective check and ruthless elimination of terrorists' havens has afforded much needed peace to Pakistan to concentrate on its developenmtal plans for present and future. Though it is sad to see USA and other world powers still not acknowledging sacrifices of some 70,000 and still press on Pakistan to do more. 

Our Armed Forces would continue to fight back terrorism in any form and one day God willing will be successful in its efforts.

Read my previous post on F-104s: 23 March and the F-104 Starfighters
Photos: PAF
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