Pakistani Army Aviation

planeman

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Respected military aviation magazine Air Forces monthly (AFM) recently had an interesting article about the Pakistani Army's aviation units, particularly in their combat with Taliban. This is my interpretation after thinking it over a bit.

The increased intensity of fighting along the Afghan border regions is taking its toll and several aircraft have been lost. However the war on terror has provided Pakistani Army aviation with much training and also some new helicopters (notably AH-1 Cobras).

The original Pakistani Cobras have night fighting sensors, but the newer ex-US AH-1s do not. Apparently the AH-1s are getting worn out and Pakistan is looking for replacements - Eurocopter Tiger has been considered.

Pakistan's Bell-412s have been locally modified with 7.62mm machine guns in door positions. Apparently these will be retrofitted with better door mounts. These augment the AH-1s which are in short supply.

The Pakistani army is gaining some conflict experience but not against a sophisticated enemy like India. It is no doubt improving logistics readiness and operational flexibility and command experience. Additionally I'd guess that seeing US military operations this close also has great learning potential for Pakistani commanders.

Another aspect where Pakistani Army is gaining experience is repairing combat damage. Experience not to be under-estimated. On the other hand this underlines that Pakistani helicopters are getting hit by 14.5mm and lighter AAA by poorly trained adversaries. Pakistan has large logistic helicopter fleet but relatively few attack helicopters. If routine missions are exposing the AH-1s to ground fire on a frequent basis then Pakistan would have attrition issues very quickly against the comparatively better equipped Indian forces when operating in similar environments (eg Kashmir). MANPADS and 23mm AAA.... All attack helicopters operate in a mode where losses to ground fire are inevitable in anything approaching a "fair fight". This would be particularly true if they were advancing into enemy held ground. Whereas if the enemy is advancing they are less susceptible because many air defence assets cannot easily keep up with MBTs (depends of course). It shows that although the machine guns fitted to tanks can potentially bring down helicopters, they are unlikely to deter Pakistani AH-1s who are used to operating against 14.5mm AAA.

The Mi-17s, and I'd expect the Pumas, are massively increasing logistics capability and enabling Pakistani Army to maintain combat momentum during sweeping operations. This to is a transferable lesson to Kashmir scenarios.



Transfer these experiences and expanding capabilities to the Indian border and it's obvious that Pakistani Army Aviation is today better than previously: Better able to supply forward positions, better able to provide combat support and better able to adapt to tactical conditions and led by more experienced commanders
 
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enlightened1

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True, combat experience is valuable... but IIRC, wasn't the tiger deal shelved last year? I thought they were leaning more towards the T-129 that Mangusta is developing for Turkey.
 

SATISH

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Thank you sir. But this givs the Pakistani Army experience only in COIN operations. While fighting a sophisticated army then they will be faced with more numbers and mass firepower. But experience is experience. The AW 129 Mangusta is a better platform according to me as it resembles our LCH which has been developed especially to fly in the high altitude regions of the Himalayas. I would like to thank you for this article sir.
 

planeman

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Yes I don't think Pakistan will follow through with Tiger.

Outward resemblance does not make it better or worse at high alt operations I don't think. AH-1Z is another possibility. Overall Pakistan doesn't operate sufficient quantities of attack helicopters for them to be a game changer in any future conventional battles.

Though less glamorous, the Mi-17 is Pakistan's quantum leap in capability and war-fighting potential in Kashmir. India operates similar helicopters.
 

BunBunCake

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Sir, what you've said is absolutely correct. Pakistani Army has indeed gained combat experience by fighting the militants. But also as you've said, the militants are not as well trained, nor equipped as well as the Indian Armed Forces are.

Thank you for your analysis, and simplified report,
Raja

EDIT:
Also, May I know in which way the Mi-17 would boost the capacity of the PA? I've read that they are not weaponized like the Indian Mi-17's are. Please correct me if i'm wrong.
 
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planeman

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Sure, logistics is a capability. The Mi-17s directly contribute to the PA's ability to maintain forward momentum in mountainous/hilly terrain, moving troops, bringing up supplies etc where trucks are less capable. PA always had transport helicopters, but now has greatly increased this capability and the quality of machines. It's not glamorous, but it translates into real war-fighting capability.
 

SATISH

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Yes I don't think Pakistan will follow through with Tiger.

Outward resemblance does not make it better or worse at high alt operations I don't think. AH-1Z is another possibility. Overall Pakistan doesn't operate sufficient quantities of attack helicopters for them to be a game changer in any future conventional battles.

Though less glamorous, the Mi-17 is Pakistan's quantum leap in capability and war-fighting potential in Kashmir. India operates similar helicopters.
Sir the specs are same and they belong to the same class of helicopters sir.
 

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