Pakistan Naval Air Arm

The Pakistan Naval Air Arm (unofficially: Pakistan Naval Aviation) is the naval aviation branch within the Pakistan Navy that is responsible for aerial operations from the seaborne platform.[1]

Naval Air Arm
پاکستان بحرى فِضائیہ
Pakistan Naval Air Arm insignia.svg
Official logo of the Pakistan Naval Aviation
Active9 December 1971; 48 years ago (1971-12-09)–Present
Country Pakistan
BranchNaval Jack of Pakistan.svg Pakistan Navy
TypeNaval aviation
RoleSea-to air-combat, anti-submarine warfare, Search and rescue, aerial reconnaissance, weather observation, and material transportation.
Size100 aircraft, 40 helicopters
Part ofNavy
HeadquartersPNS Mehran in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
AnniversariesNavy Day: 6 September
RoundelRoundel of Pakistan – Naval Aviation.svg
Fin FlashThe Navy Fin Flash
FlagNaval Standard of Pakistan.svg
Aircraft flown
HelicopterAlouette III, Harbin Z-9, Mil Mi-14, Westland Sea King
PatrolATR P-72 ASW, P-3C Orion, Fokker F27 200-MAR, Hawker 850XL
ReconnaissanceGIDS Uqab, EMT Luna X-2000
TrainerSuper Mushshak
TransportATR 72, Fokker F27-200/400M

The naval aviation branch is responsible for conducting the land-based strike capability, fleet air defence, evacuation and extraction, search and rescue, maritime reconnaissance, and anti-submarine warfare.[2] Early in its inception the Naval Air Arm was dependent upon the Air Force and the Army to meet its training requirement of air and ground crew.[1]

The Commander Naval Aviation (COMNAV), usually at rank of Commodore, is a senior commander who directs the field operations of the naval aviation.



After the second war with India in 1965, the concept of establishing the navy-based aviation service was conceived by the Pakistan Navy who forwarded the idea to the Government of Pakistan as part of the war strategy to sustain the purely defence of nation's maritime interests.:63–66.[3]

The Navy had been long aware of the usefulness and tactical advantages of the air-wing after witnessing the United States Naval Aviators' actions in the Vietnam War, and the V-Adm. Muzaffar Hassan, the Navy Commander, had been made attempts to establish the naval aviation but this was impossible to achieve in the absence of generous support from the outside sources.:213[4][5]

Furthermore, the strong objectives came from the Air Marshal Abdur Rahim Khan, the Air Commander, who had been very hostile towards any idea of modernizing the navy and loath to risk its precious aircraft in over-the-water operations.:63[6] The lack of funds and donations from the United States Navy, the concept was never materialized though the Navy entered in talks with the United States Government of transferring the three to four Lockheed P-3 Orion aircraft before the third war with India in 1971.:64[6]

After the first missile attack in Karachi in 1971, the Navy hastily established the naval air arm by leasing a civilian aircraft, the Fokker F27, from the Pakistan International Airlines whose pilots volunteered to carry the naval observers on a maritime reconnaissance on 6 December 1971.[7] Cdre. A. W. Bhomba, the senior forward observer, mistakenly identified his own ship, PNS Zulfiqar forming defences at that time, and gave clearance to the Pakistan Air Force to carry out the bombing mission to target the ship– a friendly fire incident that further hampered Navy's operational scope.[7]

After the third war with India in 1971, the Air Arm continued to exists and was able to induct the Sea King helicopters from the United Kingdom through the transfers from the Royal Navy on 28 September 1974– this led to the establishment of the 111 ASW Squadron in the Naval Aviation.[8] The first naval air station, PNS Mehran, was inaugurated in Karachi, in the vicinity of the Faisal Air Force Base, on 26 September 1975.:155–156[9]

Atlantique IncidentEdit

An Atlantique plane belonging to the Italian Navy. The downed Pakistan Navy plane was an identical one.

The Atlantique Incident was a major international incident that occurred on 10 August 1999 when a Pakistan Naval Air Arm patrol aircraft—a Breguet Atlantique with 16 personnel on board—was shot down in the border area of the Kutch region by Indian Air Force jets. Pakistan and India both claimed the aircraft to be in their respective airspace.

Some experts stated that the Atlantique was probably conducting a "probe" on India's air defence system, mainly the radar equipment in the border area; however, they advised that it was not part of any planned aggressive military action by Pakistan.[10] Foreign diplomats who visited the crash site noted that the plane "may have strayed into restricted space", and that Islamabad was unable to explain why it was flying so close to the border; they however added that India's reaction to the incident was not justified.[11] Many countries, the G8, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as the western media questioned the wisdom behind Pakistan's decision to fly military aircraft so close to the Indian border.[12]

On 21 September 1999, Pakistan lodged a compensation claim at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, accusing India of shooting down an unarmed aircraft. Pakistan sought about US$60 million in reparations from India and compensation for the victims' families. India's attorney general, Soli Sorabjee, argued that the court did not have jurisdiction,[13] citing an exemption it filed in 1974 to exclude disputes between India and other Commonwealth States, and disputes covered by multi-lateral treaties.

On 21 June 2000, the 16-judge Bench headed by Gilbert Guillaume of France ruled—with a 14–2 verdict—upholding India's submission that the court had no jurisdiction in this matter.[14][15] Pakistan's claims were dropped, without recourse to appeal, and the outcome was seen as a decision highly favourable to India.[16][17] The Pakistan government had spent close to 25 million Pakistani rupees (approx. $400,000) on the case.[18]

Attack and rehabilitationEdit

On 22 May 2011, Tehreek-i-Taliban attacked the PNS Mehran naval base and destroyed P-3C Orion aircraft.[19]

Aircraft inventory and squadronsEdit

Rotary-wing aircraftEdit

The 111 ASW Squadron, which consists of the Sea King, is primarily programmed for missile launch capability targeting dived submarines and releasing depth charges.[8] In 1977, the 333 ASW squadron was established with the induction of the Aérospatiale Alouette II and the Alouette III rotary aircraft, in which the first group of naval aviators were trained in France.[20]

With the acquiring of the Tariq-class destroyers from the Royal Navy, the Navy was additionally able to acquire three Westland Lynx utility helicopters which were inducted into the 222 ASW Squadron.[21]

In 2006, the Navy established the 222 ASW squadron with the introduction of the Harbin Z-9 which is equipped with sensors and radars to support its ESM measures.[22] All Pakistan naval air arm's rotary-wing aircraft are designed for anti-submarine warfare and electronic warfare support measures.[8]

Fixed-wing aircraftEdit

In 1973, the Navy entered into talks with France to acquire the Breguet Atlantic aircraft for its patrolling missions,:40[23] and acquired the aircraft on 14 August 1976, that established the 29 ASW Atlantic Squadron and is tasked with maritime reconnaissance missions.[24]

In 1982, the 27 ASW Squadron was established with the induction of the Fokker F-27 aircraft, followed by the acquiring of the P-3C Orion aircraft in 1996 after a long delay due to the imposition of the Pressler Amendment in 1990.:152[6] The P-3C Orion gave the Navy strike capability but one of these planes was lost due to an accident while carrying out routine exercises in local coastal waters on 29 October 1999.:263[25]

Current inventoryEdit

A Pakistan Navy Orion on takeoff
A Pakistani Westland Sea King
A Pakistani SA 319B
Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Maritime Patrol
Lockheed P-3 Orion United States ASW / Maritime Patrol P-3C 6[26]
ATR 72 France / Italy ASW / Maritime Patrol RAS-72 Sea Eagle 2 [27][28][29][30]
Fokker F27 Netherlands Maritime Patrol 200-MAR 4 [26]
Hawker 800 United Kingdom Surveillance 850XP 1[26]
ATR 72 France / Italy Transport ATR 72-212A 2 [30]
Fokker F27 Netherlands Transport F27-200 2 [26]
F27-400M 1
Westland Sea King United Kingdom ASW / Utility Sea King Mk.45 7 [26][31]
SAR Sea King HAR.3A 1
Transport / Utility Sea King HC.4 1
Harbin Z-9 China ASW / SAR / Utility Z-9EC 5[26]
Aérospatiale Alouette III France Liaison / Utility SA 316B 7[26]
SA 319B
Mil Mi-14 Soviet Union SAR / Utility Mi-14PS 2[26]
GIDS Uqab Pakistan Surveillance 20[32]
Luna X-2000 Germany Surveillance 10[33] [34]


Previous aircraft operated were the BN-2 Islander, Harbin Y-12, Breguet Atlantic, Westland Lynx, and the Sikorsky UH-19[35][36]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Pakistan Navy Official Website". Archived from the original on 4 July 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  2. ^ John Pike (1 January 1987). "Pakistan". Archived from the original on 18 May 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  3. ^ Goldrick, James (1997). No Easy Answers. New Delhi, India: Lancer's Publications and Distributors. pp. 63/65/66. ISBN 1-897829-02-7.
  4. ^ Tahir-Kheli, Shirin; Neuman, Stephanie G . (1984). "§Defense Planning in Pakistan". In Neuman, Stephanie G . (ed.). Defense Planning in Less Industrialised States: The Middle East and South Asia (1st ed.). Massachusetts, U.S.: Lexington Book, Co.
  5. ^ See Mountbatten to Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir William Dickson (Chief of Defence Staff) . Undated letter but probably late February 1959 and written in response to Dickson's letter
  6. ^ a b c Goldrick, RAN, Rear-Admiral James (1996). "§(Towards a Submarine Arm: 1966-1971)". No Easy Answers: The Development of the Navies of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka 1945—1996 (PDF) (1st ed.). London, UK: Spantech and Lancers. p. 270. ISBN 1897829027. Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Trident, Grandslam and Python: Attacks on Karachi". Archived from the original on 26 September 2009.
  8. ^ a b c "111 PNAS". 111 PNAS. Archived from the original on 31 October 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  9. ^ USA, IBP (2009). "§(The Pakistan Navy)". Pakistan Intelligence, Security Activities and Operations Handbook (googlebooks). p. 230. ISBN 9781438737218. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Pakistan Attacks Indian Aircraft". 12 August 1999. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  11. ^ "South Asia | Pakistani plane 'may have crossed border'". BBC News. 13 August 1999. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  12. ^ "Islamabad's Post-Kargil Challenges". 6 April 1999. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  13. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – World". Archived from the original on 2 May 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Cour internationale de Justice | International Court of Justice". Archived from the original on 15 October 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Case Concerning the Aerial Incident of 10 August 1999" (PDF). www.icj. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 November 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  16. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Main News". 22 June 2000. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  17. ^ "SOUTH ASIA | World court blow for Pakistan". BBC News. 21 June 2000. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Govt comments sought in Atlantique case – Newspaper". Dawn.Com. 17 July 2002. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  19. ^ Waldron, Greg (23 May 2011). "Taliban destroy two Pakistan navy P-3Cs". Flightglobal. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  20. ^ "333 ASW squadron". Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  21. ^ Shabbir, Usman. "Westland Lynx HAS 3". PakDef Military Consortium. Archived from the original on 27 December 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  22. ^ "222 ASW Squadron". Archived from the original on 1 November 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  23. ^ Mr Bhutto in at Large. Indian National Congress. All India Congress Committee. 4 August 1973. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  24. ^ "29 ASW Squadron (Atlantic)". 29 ASW Squadron (Atlantic). Archived from the original on 18 August 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  25. ^ Anwar, Muhammad (2006). Stolen Stripes and Broken Medals: Autobiography of a Senior Naval Officer. AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781425900205. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h "World Air Forces 2020". Flightglobal Insight. 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Pakistan Navy acquires second-hand ATR72." AirForces Monthly (Key Publishing Stamford, Lincolnshire, England), April 2013, p. 26.
  28. ^ "News". Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  29. ^ "Pakistan Navy receives second ATR-72 MPA". Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  30. ^ a b
  31. ^ "Pakistan Navy commissions one ATR-72 MPA, two Sea King helicopters". Jane's 360. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019.
  32. ^ "UQAB-II". Archived from the original on 7 January 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^
  35. ^ "World Air Forces 1976". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  36. ^ "World Air Forces 2004". Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.

External linksEdit