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PAF s' Squadrons

No. 24 Squadron History: 1948-1988

No 24 Squadron was formed in December 1962 to carry out special missions from Peshawar. Its crew were all drawn from No. 31 B-57 Wing including the squadron commander, Squadron Leader M Iqbal. The squadron was equipped with special B-57s for electronic surveillance and the first 6 months were spent on ground training and learning about the electronic equipment. A pair of crew was also sent to the USA for training. The Squadron's two RB-57Bs had been specially converted for its tasks. The board mission of 24 Squadron was to maintain electronic surveillance of areas of interest to Pakistan.

During the 1965 war, 24 squadron flew several missions to provide electronic support measures (ESM) for PAF's counter air tasks. A F-86 strike against Amritsar was also provided effective ESM by Squadron leader M IqbaI as path finder with Squadron Leader G A Khan as his navigator. Soon after this mission Squadron Leader Iqbal and another navigator Flight Lieutenant Saifullah Lodhi were shot down by own guns near Rahwali airfield while on a practice sortie. They were both awarded Sitara-i-Juraat posthumously. Squadron Leader G A Khan also won an Sitara-i-Juraat as an intrepid navigator. Squadron Leader Rashid Mir then took over as squadron commander.

No 24 Squadron's most daring and deep mission into Indian territory was flown in the aftermath of the 65 war. While the newly appointed squadron commander's aircraft penetrated into the Agra area another B-57 monitored its progress from many miles away. Just as Squadron Leader Mir Rashid came over Agra, a SAM-2 was fired by the Indian Air Force, but it exploded on the launching pad and caused many casualties.

A little later, when the B-57 was in the Pathankot-Amritsar area, the IAF tried to intercept it with MIG-21s but failed to do so owing to superior tactics by the PAF pilots. When it headed towards Ambala again, the IAF cleared the area of all fighters and prepared for another SAM-2 launch to shoot down the B-57. Over Ambala Rashid announced that he had been buffeted by a shockwave which had also caused one of his engines to flameout, and that some fragment of the missile had shattered his windshield. His mission successfully completed, Rashid then headed for home.

The IAF again scrambled MIG-21s hoping to catch the aircraft as it lost height but when it reentered Pakistan the chase was given up by the Indian Air Force due to the presence of a waiting pair of F-104s. The damaged B-57 was landed back safely by its pilot with considerable skill. For his plucky and valuable effort Squadron Leader Rashid was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat.

After remaining on a number-plate status for nearly ten years, the Squadron was reactivated in 1987.

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