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PAF s' Squadrons

No. 17 Squadron History: 1948-1988

No. 17 Squadron was established at Mauripur on 1st April 1957, under the command of Squadron Leader M Z Butt. The unit was housed in an old building comprising 4 rooms which had to be shared with No. 16 Squadron. No furniture or furnishing had been provided and these had to be obtained from other units on a beg, borrow or steal basis! In about a month's time, the squadron established itself and started regular flying by 20th May 1957.

In January and February 1958, the squadron provided an aerial escort of 8 aircraft each for the President of Indonesia and King of Afghanistan. It also took part in the historic air display which was held in honour of the latter dignitary. In the beginning of May 1958, the unit moved to Peshawar from where it carried out offensive operations in the Dir / Bajaur area. 17 Squadron also participated in PAF exercise 'Janus' in 1959.

On 27th September 1963, the squadron moved from Mauripur to PAF Base Dhaka where, on 4th January 1964, Air Marshal M Asghar Khan, C-in-C PAF, visited the unit during his annual inspection of the base. On 12 January a static display of aircraft and equipment was held on the Armed Forces Day. The squadron returned to West Pakistan in February 1964 to participate in the Perry-Keene armament competition. Seven F-86s were flown across India in two formations with a night stop at Palam. Flying Officer Zaigham Aizad won the Sher Afghan trophy for best individual marksmanship during the competition. While in West Pakistan, the squadron also took part in the Republic Day fly past at Rawalpindi on 23rd March 1964. The unit returned to Dhaka on 28th March 1964.

Air Marshal Asghar Khan again visited the squadron on his way back from a tour of Indonesia and the Philippines in April 1964. On 8th October 1964, the unit moved from Dhaka to Mauripur on a permanent basis. Flight Lieutenant Imtiaz Bhatti was left behind for liaison duties with the incoming No 14 Squadron.

No. 17 Squadron took an active part in the war between India and Pakistan in September 1965 in which all its pilots flew with great determination and courage. The role assigned to the squadron at Sargodha mostly involved close support to the army in Sialkot, Lahore and Khem Karan sectors. Squadron Leader Azim Daudpota, the squadron commander, and Flight Lieutenant Seraj-ul-Haque also flew some air defence missions at Sargodha.

After successfully executing a strike over the Philora area on 19th September 1965 Squadron Leader Daudpota's formation comprising Flight Lieutenants S M Ahmed, Mujtaba and Azam was bounced by 2 IAF Gnats and in the ensuing fight Azam shot down 1 Gnat. One of the most effective strikes carried out by the squadron was led by Squadron Leader Daudpota with Flying Officer Qadir and 2 other pilots, they destroyed several medium guns that had been positioned near Jallo / Atari for shelling Lahore. The formation was highly commended by the Army field commander. The squadron in all claimed 20 to 30 tanks and 100 to 150 vehicles destroyed or damaged and 150 to 200 enemy troops killed.

In April 1966, 4 pilots flying F-86 aircraft escorted King Faisal of Saudi Arabia into Karachi on his state visit to Pakistan. On 1st June the squadron was equipped with F-86E aircraft and by August all the squadron pilots were operational on this new mark of the Sabre.

In October 1966, the squadron moved to Iran for ten days to take part in the Iranian Air Force Day fly past. In February 1967, the squadron took part in the annual armament competition and produced scores which were an improvement upon its previous performances. On 9th March the squadron also participated in a fire power demonstration at Jamrud Range, Peshawar.

On 15th October 1971 No. 17 Squadron moved to PAF Rafiqui from where it carried out war operations under the command of Wing Commander Mujtaba Qureshi. A total of 337 sorties were flown during December 1971 which included 272 operational missions. The war missions included air defence scrambles close support in the Lahore-Kasur-Hussainiwala sector and counter air strikes against the IAF. During operations there were 5 cases of aircraft damage due to enemy attack. On 4th December 1971 Flight Lieutenant Nayyar lqbal sustained fatal injuries when his aircraft engine flamed out. The squadron returned to Masroor at the end of December.

On 19th July 1979, Squadron Colour was presented to the unit by Admiral K R Niazi, Chief of the Naval Staff.

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