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The PAF in the Afghan War
A Lost Opportunity - May 14, 1986

Pilots: Squadron Leader Rao Qamar Suleman (Leader), Flight Lieutenant Nawaz (No. 2)
Controller: Squadron Leader Saif-ur-Rehman
Date: May 14, 1986
Area: Near Parachinar

A formation of two Mirages of 18 Tactical Attack (TA) Squadron took off from Kamra at 1100 hours to mount a CAP southeast of Parachinar at 15,000 feet. The controller informed the formation about a number of slow flying targets coming towards the border. After an abortive attempt to pick up contact, the formation descended to 3,000 feet and flying at 550 knots, picked up tally with six Mi-24 Hind gunship helicopters at 3-4 NM range. The gunships were flying at 7-8,000 feet. The leader decided to engage the front helicopter and asked his No. 2 to take the last helicopter. He put the sight on the helicopter and got an immediate radar lock-on. However, there was no missile lock-on. At 1.4 km range, the pilot went to rapid air-to-air gun mode. At around 900 meters from the target, he pressed the trigger but the guns did not fire. The leader broke off and No. 2 closed in to his target. He pressed the trigger at a range of 8-9,000 meters but the guns did not fire. Thus, he also broke off. The formation landed back safely.

In the post-flight, the gun circuit breaker of the leader's aircraft was found to have popped out because of an electrical short-circuiting in the gun pack. No. 2's gun had not fired because, while selecting the switches to Hot (armed), he had not removed the gun trigger latch. Thus, a golden opportunity to kill two gunship helicopters was lost because of bad luck on the part of the leader and lack of experience on the part of No. 2.

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