The 9th squadron was the second within the PAF to be equipped with the F-16. The first aircraft arrived in the course of 1984. With the introduction of the F-16, the squadron was moved from Masroor AB to Sarghoda AB to form the 38th Wing there. This move was meant to reinforce the units at Sarghoda AB which is situated closer to the Afghan border then Masroor AB, which lays on the southern coastline.
Immediately with its introduction, the F-16 was the premier front-line fighter of the Pakistani Air Force. This meant that the F-16 was sent out to patrol Pakistans borders. With the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan in 1979, a lot of turmoil existed in the Pakistani-Afghan border region. Russian and Afghan aircraft regularly crossed the border with Pakistan. F-16s were sent to counter these intrusions.
PAF F-16A #85726
and F-16B #84608
over the Choolistan desert, armed with AIM-9
Sidewinders - the PAF's main air-to-air weapons [PAF photo]
This tense situation existed until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. In that period, 9th squadron was credited with three air kills against Soviet and Afghan aircraft. The first interception occurred on May 17th, 1986 when Squadron Leader Mohammed Yousaf shot down two Su-22 fighters near Parachinar. The second interception occurred on March 30th, 1987 when an An-26 fell victim to Squadron Leader Sikander Hayat near Miranshah.
Already worked up as an air defence asset, the Pakistani Air Force wanted to expand the possibilities of the F-16 and also use it in the ground attack role. Therefore it installed the Thompson-CSF ALTIS II laser designation pod on its F-16s from 1987 onwards. Pakistan was the first country to introduce this pod on its F-16 which makes it possible to accurately deliver laser guided bombs as the GBU-10/12.
With the decision to upgrade the existing F-16s to MLU standards in the near future, the possibilities of the PAF to put the F-16 into operation will expand drastically.
PAF F-16A block 15 #84715
from the 9th sqn is coming in for landing at Konya AB during exercise Anatolian Eagle held there in June of 2006. [Photo by Emin Fýndýklý