Twice this year the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has made a mammoth effort to fly its JF-17 Thunders to overseas air shows. The first was at Radom in Poland during late August where two JF-17s appeared at an event to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Polish Air Force.
But why Poland? Because after the end of World War II, 46 Polish airmen who had served with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in World War II, joined the new Pakistan Air Force. The most famous was Air Commander WJM Turowicz, who as a chief aeronautical engineer played a major part in Pakistan’s missile/rocket programme. Turowicz is still revered in Pakistan, although he passed away in January 1980, after a road accident. He was buried in the Christian cemetery in Karachi.
The second overseas airshow was the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, at Zhuhai in November. A detachment of around 60 personnel as well as three JF-17s from No 26 Sqn at Peshawar, left their home base on 29 October. The jets flew thousands of miles across China, stopping at three bases that included two night stops, and arrived on 31 October.
Experienced Thunder display pilot, Wing Commander Zeeshan Baryar, has been participating at events like this for about three years, and was joined by Squadron Leader Sibtain who is set to take over his role. They both ferried the aircraft to Zhuhai, along with Wing Commander Asad, the squadron commander who told IDEAS Show Daily: “It was a wonderful experience and the airshow visitors had a great time interacting with the enthusiastic Chinese audience.”
During the event both pilots took the opportunity to fly in the display, and sometimes they even flew a slot each a day. The detachment returned to Pakistan on 13 November, with the support personnel being flown by C-130E Hercules on the long journey home.
One of the three JF-17s was a fixture in the static display, with a large number of missiles and bombs exhibited around it. The majority of them were either integrated on the aircraft or are set to be by CATIC. Among them were two examples of a stand-off weapon.