Monday, March 4, 2024

Pakistan Military’s Achievements Across Air, Sea, and Land in 2023

In 2023, the Pakistan Military showcased its prowess on both national and international fronts, engaging in a series of exercises that underscored its commitment to preparedness and cooperation. From hosting strategic drills to participating in joint maneuvers, the military demonstrated its proficiency across diverse domains. Additionally, in 2023, the Pakistan Army conducted several Intelligence-Based Operations (IBO) in Northern KPK, highlighting its dedication to ensuring security and stability in the region. This blog delves into the notable achievements of the Pakistan Military in 2023, shedding light on the exercises it actively engaged in and the pivotal developments within its naval and aerial fleets. Explore a year marked by strategic advancements and collaborative endeavors, showcasing the strength and capabilities of Pakistan’s military forces.

Pakistan Air Force

  1. Spears Of Victory: Exercise Spears of Victory, 2023 was a multinational air exercise that took place at Air War Centre Dhahran (King Abdulaziz Air Base), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in February 2023. A contingent of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) participated in the exercise with JF-17A/B Thunder Block II (belongs to No. 26 MR Squadron “Black Panthers”) and F-16A/B Block 15 (from No. 9 MR Squadron “Griffins”) aircraft, which demonstrated their combat potential and agility against multiple state-of-the-art fighters of the world. The exercise aimed at providing an opportunity to enhance interoperability with participating countries, as well as fostering military relations and joint employment of combat and combat support acquisitions. The exercise also involved complex training missions with electronic warfare and air defense systems, as well as inflight refueling. Bahraini Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Qatari Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force, United States Air Force, and Royal Jordanian Air Force also participated. The PAF contingent landed back at its operational air base on February 21, 2023, after successful participation in the exercise. The exercise was a testament to the professionalism and prowess of the PAF pilots and crew, as well as a reflection of the strong ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
  2. JF-17C public appearance: The JF-17C is the latest variant of the JF-17 Thunder, a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft jointly developed by Pakistan and China. The JF-17C features a new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system, a Helmet-Mounted Display (HMD), and improved avionics and weapons. The JF-17C made its public debut at the Pakistan Day Parade on March 23, 2023, showcasing its enhanced capabilities and performance. There was a four-ship formation led by JF-17C followed by JF-17 Block I (Serial # 07-101), and JF-17 Block IIs.
  3. Anatolian Eagle 2023: Anatolian Eagle is a large-scale air combat exercise hosted by the Turkish Air Force at the Konya Air Base. The exercise aims to improve the interoperability, readiness, and tactics of participating air forces in realistic scenarios. Anatolian Eagle 2023 was held from April 25 to May 5, 2023, and involved aircraft from Turkey, Pakistan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Qatar, and Azerbaijan. The Pakistan Air Force sent six F-16C Block 52 (from No. 5 MR Squadron “Falcons”) and two C-130E transport aircraft to the exercise, demonstrating its skills and professionalism in various missions.
  4. Bright Star 2023: Bright Star is a biennial joint military exercise led by Egypt and the United States, with participation from 30 other allied nations including Pakistan & India. The exercise focuses on enhancing regional security and stability, as well as strengthening military collaboration and interoperability. Bright Star 2023 was held from September 2 to 16, 2023, at the Mohammed Naguib Military Base, the largest military base in Africa and the Middle East. The Pakistan Air Force participated in the exercise with four JF-17A Thunder Block IIs (from No. 2 MR Squadron “Minhasians”) along with personnel from the Special Services Wing (SSW).
  5. Indus Shield-2023: Indus Shield is a multinational air exercise hosted by the Pakistan Air Force at the Mushaf Air Base. The exercise aims to foster mutual understanding, trust, and cooperation among participating air forces, as well as to enhance their operational capabilities and readiness. Indus Shield-2023 was held from October 18 to 28, 2023, and involved aircraft from brotherly countries Pakistan, Turkiye, and Saudi Arabia. The Pakistani JF-17 J-10CE, F-16C/D Block 52+, Mirage IIIEAs and F-7PGs, Saudi F-15SA, and Turkish F-16Cs as well as its air defense and surveillance systems, in the exercise.
  6. Dubai Air Show 2023: The Dubai AirShow is one of the largest and most prestigious aerospace events in the world, attracting exhibitors and visitors from all over the globe. The show features the latest innovations and developments in the aviation industry, as well as spectacular aerial displays and demonstrations. The Dubai Air Show 2023 was held from November 13 to 17, 2023, at the Dubai World Central (DWC) airport. The Pakistan Air Force made a resounding participation at the show, featuring its highly advanced JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jet alongside the versatile Super Mushshak aircraft. The JF-17 Thunder Block III (Serial # 22-308 from No. 16 MR Squadron “Black Panthers”) made its first-ever appearance in an international air show, drawing attention and admiration from the audience and potential buyers. The Super Mushshak also impressed the visitors with its performance and utility as a basic trainer and light attack aircraft. The Pakistan Air Force also exhibited the Aselsan ASELPOD Targeting pod (which is compatible with Thunders at the show.
  7. PAK-TURK 5th Generation Jet Cooperation: Pakistan and Azerbaijan officially joined the KAAN project in July 2023. They signed a contract with Turkish Aerospace Industries to jointly develop various airworthy equipment and manufacture some of the subsystems of the project is led by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and employs engineers from Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology (NUST). The KAAN stealth aircraft is expected to feature advanced stealth capabilities, artificial intelligence, and cutting-edge technology. The aircraft will replace the existing F-16 fighter jets in service with the Turkish Air Force and the Pakistan Air Force. The KAAN stealth aircraft was scheduled to have its first flight on December 27, 2023, but due to incomplete tests, its first flight was delayed. After completion of the ground tests and roll tests, KAAN is predicted to take out its first flight in the near hereafter.

This collaboration aims to revolutionize the aerospace industry and strengthen the strategic ties between the three nations.

Pakistan Navy

  1. Exercise AMAN 2023: Exercise AMAN 2023 is a multinational maritime exercise hosted by the Pakistan Navy every two years since 2007. The exercise aims to promote security cooperation and combat maritime threats such as terrorism, piracy, and smuggling. The eighth edition of the exercise will be held from February 10 to 14, 2023, in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Karachi. More than 50 countries participated in the exercise with ships, aircraft, special operations forces, marine teams, and observers. The exercise will consist of two phases: a harbor phase with seminars, discussions, and demonstrations, and a sea phase with various operational maneuvers and drills.
  2. PNS SHAHJAHAN Takes Center Stage at LIMA 2023: PNS SHAHJAHAN is one of the four Type 054A/P frigates acquired by the Pakistan Navy from China. The Type 054A/P is a multi-role frigate with advanced capabilities for anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, and land attack. The frigate has a displacement of 4,000 tons, a length of 134 meters, and a speed of 32 knots. It is equipped with a 76 mm gun, a Phalanx close-in weapon system, a six-cell LY-60N surface-to-air missile launcher, two 20 mm cannons, torpedo launchers, and a Lynx helicopter. The frigate was commissioned in the Pakistan Navy on May 10, 2023, along with its sister ship PNS TIPPU SULTAN, at a ceremony held in Shanghai, China. PNS SHAHJAHAN represented Pakistan at the 16th edition of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA 2023), held in Malaysia from May 26 to 30, 2023.
  3. From Falklands War to Maritime Heritage: ex-PNS TARIQ was the lead ship of the Tariq-class destroyers in the Pakistan Navy, serving from 1993 to 2023. The ship was originally built by Yarrow Shipbuilders in Scotland for the Royal Navy as HMS AMBUSCADE, a Type 21 frigate. The ship saw action in the Falklands War in 1982, before being transferred to the Pakistan Navy in 1993. The ship was named after Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslim general who conquered Spain in the 8th century. The ship underwent several modernization and upgrade programs and participated in various exercises and operations, including the 2005 Indian Ocean tsunami relief mission. The ship was decommissioned by the Pakistan Navy on August 4, 2023, and donated to the Falls of Clyde International (FOCI), a UK-based organization that preserves historic ships. The ship will be converted into a floating museum and displayed at the Clyde Maritime Heritage Center in Glasgow, Scotland, as a symbol of the common naval heritage shared by the UK and Pakistan.
  4. 5th Sea Eagle for Pakistan Naval Air Arm: ATR 72-500 is a twin-engine turboprop aircraft designed and manufactured by ATR, a joint venture between Airbus and Leonardo. The aircraft is used for regional passenger transport, cargo transport, and maritime patrol. The Pakistan Navy acquired five ATR 72-500 [ex AP-BKX] aircraft from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the national flag carrier, to enhance its maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. The aircraft was converted by Rheinland Air Service (RAS), a German company, into the RAS 72-500 Sea Eagle configuration, which features a long-range AESA radar, an electro-optic/infrared sensor, an acoustic processing system, a satellite communication system, an electronic support measures suite, a self-protection suite, and two weapon hard-points. The first aircraft, with serial number 71, was delivered to the Pakistan Navy in June 2020, and the fifth and final aircraft, with serial number 75, was delivered in December 2023. The aircraft is operated by the 29th Squadron of the Pakistan Naval Air Arm.


Pakistan Army

  1. “Series” Exercise: The Bilateral Army Exercise “Series” was a joint military exercise between Pakistan and Malaysia to enhance their defense cooperation and war skills. The exercise consisted of two phases: the Cross Training Exercise, where the participants exchanged ideas, knowledge, and skills, and the Field Training Exercise, where they performed various combat drills and scenarios. The exercise lasted for 14 days and was held in Malaysia. It was a significant display of military cooperation and bilateral engagement between the two countries.
  2. Hunting Terrorists: In the year 2023, the Pakistan Army conducted 04 Intelligence Operations with the assistance of the Pakistan Army Aviation and Special Services Group (SSG).
  • On April 5, one soldier was martyred and eight terrorists were killed in Shinwarsak, South Waziristan. The terrorists were planning to target the local population and security forces.
  • On May 17, security forces eliminated two terrorists in Jani Khel, Bannu District. The terrorists were hiding in a compound and opened fire on the troops.
  • On September 20, security forces killed a terrorist and injured another in Kulachi, Dera Ismail Khan District. The terrorist was involved in attacks on security forces and civilians.
  • On November 6, Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Hassan Haider and three soldiers were martyred while fighting terrorists in Tirah Valley, Khyber District. Three terrorists, including a commander, were also killed in the operation.


Umair Aslam
Umair Aslam is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Global Defense Insight. He has worked as a defense journalist reporting on military modernization programs, defense industry, arms procurement, and emerging technologies.

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