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The PAF in the Afghan War
Qadri Opens the Account for the PAF - May 17, 1986

Pilot: Squadron Leader Hameed Qadri (Leader), Squadron Leader Mohammad Yousaf (No. 2)
Controller: Flying Officer Arshad (Late)
Date: May 17, 1986
Aircraft Shot: Two Su-22
Area: Near Parachinar

Starting from February 1986, No. 9 Squadron had been providing sweeps at various CAP stations on the western border along with other PAF squadrons. The Russo-Afghan Air Forces had been operating close to the border with different types of aircraft ranging from Hind helicopters to Su-25, Su-22, Mig-21, and Mig-23 aircraft. They were by then violating the Pak-Afghan border with increasing frequency. The situation was tense and many close encounters had already taken place without successful results.

A formation of F-16's on CAP mission was required to be on station before the first light, east of Parachinar. The formation took off in pre-dawn darkness and reached Hangu - their CAP station. The radar controller, Flying Officer Arshad, reported four Afghan aircraft violating the Pak-Afghan border by 4-5 nautical miles (NM). Squadron Leader Hameed Qadri checked the area on his radar from 0-40,000 feet up to 60 NM. He verified that two intruders had violated Pakistani airspace by 5 NM southwest of Parachinar.

When the two enemy aircraft started heading towards Parachinar at more than 500 knots, the controller asked the formation to accelerate to combat speed. Sensing a possible encounter, the leader asked his wingman to carry out the necessary checks, including cooling AIM-9L and switching off the anti-collision beacon and navigation lights. Watching the enemy at height, the formation also descended to a minimum safe altitude of 10,000 feet. As the bandits were continuing to turn to an easterly heading, Squadron Leader Qadri checked if any other enemy formation was in the vicinity. He did not see any other aircraft on his radarscope. The controller also confirmed that the other pair had exited towards the south.

The Leader asked his No. 2 to offset himself to the right to sandwich the enemy aircraft flying in wingman formation. Normal drill and pre-briefed tactics required an almost simultaneous approach to fire AIM-9L missiles on the two aircraft. The Leader also ensured that he had the Airborne Interception (AI) lock on the southerly intruder and his No. 2 on the northerly one. He also broke the protective glass of the tank-jettisoning button and punched the two wing drop tanks. Around 6 NM, he moved his head from the REO (AI scope) to Head-up Display (HUD) and attempted to pick up the speak that would have been the bandit in the TD (target designator) box in the HUD field-of-view. He visually picked up both the enemy fighters. Closing in, he uncaged the AIM-9L and the rasping sound in his headset confirmed that the seeker head of the missile on the infrared (IR) signature of the bandit. He did not, however, get the flashing indication of the missile diamond. The pass had become almost dead head-on and made the whole interception geometry highly time-compressed. He fired his first missile after receiving the first flashing of the diamond at a range of 12.2 NM. While it was still dark underneath, the Parachinar valley lit up from the flash and the trailing plume of the Sidewinder missile. The bandit, who was recognized as an Su-22, pulled away; he was not hurt. Qadri also saw the Sidewinder self-destroying, miles away. After crossing the bandits, Qadri made a hard left climbing turn with 7.5g. After a 180 degree turn, he saw both the Su-22's turning level and No. 2 at his 7 o'clock position. From here onwards Qadri narrates the account of his first kill:

I watched my No. 2 cross to my right side and called visual as well as tally. I called 'engaged' and quickly locked one of the Sukhois. I got all parameters right on one of them, uncaged the missile seeker head and fired my second AIM-9L missile. With a plume of fire and smoke, the missile from the right rail raced in a wind semicircle to the right. Taking tremendous lead, it soon reversed towards the target in a series of corrections and exploded on impact with the turning Su-22.

Qadri then looked back to clear his tail. He continued to keep the second aircraft in his sight and asked No. 2 to keep his tail clear. This is how he secored the second kill:

I fumbled with my switchology while attempting to select AIM-9L on Stores Management System and hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS). The silhouette of the first aircraft was visible. The other aircraft was in a left turn. His radius of turn and my energy state gave me confidence that I could easily achieve kill parameters both with missile and guns. During the turn, I found myself hitting the fringes of the AIM-9P missile. I pulled a high yo-yo as I was in a totally offensive position. My target was now in a nose-down and heading towards Afghan territory. After apexing, I quickly rolled back and fired a three-second burst on the exiting Su-22. I stopped firing when a trail of smoke and flash from his aircraft confirmed a lethal kill. Through a split 'S', I headed east of Parachinar.

Immediately after landing, the leader's video cassette was watched by the base authorities and later by the concerned staff of Air Headquarters. All of them commended the pilot and the controller on duty, for doing a good job. Squadron Leader Hameed Qadri did an outstanding job of engaging the targets, maintaining excellent situation awareness, and remaining extremely cool in trying conditions. He could have easily extricated himself after shooting down the first Su-22. Displaying aggression and boldness, he pursued and shot down another Su-22 with guns at closer ranges. The PAF awarded the Sitara-i-Basalat to Squadron Leader Hameed Qadri.

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