By :Arif Qoreshi
On the night of August 15, militants wearing air force uniform attacked the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Base “Minhas” situated at Kamra. The early morning raid on Kamra airbase, about 50 kilometers from Islamabad, triggered a firefight that lasted more than two hours and killed eight militants,Air Force spokesman Tariq Mahmood confirmed that a soldier of air force killed in the attack and militants damaged very expensive Sweden made Saab -2000 aircraft.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Claimed the Attack
The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying its suicide attackers targeted the airbase to avenge the killing of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
Minhas Air Base
Kamra base also houses the country’s largest aeronautical complex that builds Mirage V combat aircraft and JF-17 fighters, a joint venture between Pakistan and China.
Minhas is one of the most important airbases of the PAF. The major part of its geographic location is shared by the PAC, which comprises four factories:
- The aircraft manufacturing factory
- Avionics production factory
- Mirage repair factory
- Aircraft rebuild factory
These factories build, repair and overhaul major weapons systems of the PAF.
Minhas is Home to Two Operational Fighter Squadrons
- A search and rescue squadron
- An air-surveillance squadron comprising the Saab-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AEW&C).
The Saab-2000 AEW&C aircraft are very expensive air-surveillance systems. according to reports the price of one saab-2000 aircraft is $15 million dollars. They provide battlefield pictures, information about land, air or sea enemy targets and enhance situation awareness of the PAF combat fleets by sharing target information. The nose of the aircraft was damaged After initial repairs in Pakistan, the aircraft will be sent to Sweden – where it was manufactured. In 2007, the PAF had ordered five Swedish-made SAAB 2000 aircraft, four of them fitted with Saab-Ericsson ERIEYE Airborne Early Warning system. The first of these was delivered to the PAF on April 3, 2008, and the second in April 2011 last year.
Karma air base was attacked four times.
- On December 10, 2007, a PAF employees’ bus carrying school-going children was attacked by a suicide bomber near the Fauji gate outside the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra, injuring seven.
- On January 18, 2008, four rockets were fired at short intervals at this facility. Two of these rockets had hit the Mirage Rebuild Factory in the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. Luckily, no casualties were reported in this terror attack.
- On October 23, 2009, a suicide bomber had killed eight people in an attack on a check post outside this base.
- And now on August 16, 2012 (Thursday), terrorists again went on a killing spree at this vital Pakistan Air Force installation, killing at least eight militants and a security official in a counter operation that reportedly lasted over five hours.
- According to reliable Pakistani sources, the main objective of the TTP raiders into the Minhas base was to locate and destroy these saab-2000 plans and the raiders managed to damage at least one of them which means although they lost eight militants lives but they addressed the target.
- The Minhas raid resembled the TTP raid into PNS Mehran, the headquarters of the Pakistani Naval Air Arm, located inside the Faisal base of the Pakistan Air Force at Karachi on the night of May 22, 2011, during which the TTP managed to destroy two of the three US-made Orion P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft of the Pakistan Navy.
- This also reflects badly on the Pakistani intelligence agencies ability , who have been once again failed to pre-empt such attacks despite the reports that air bases are targets of militants.
- Pakistan air force recovered black barry mobile phones and NVG(night vision goggles) from the killed militants that showed that they are using modern technology to achieve their targets.
- According to the reports the only success which Pakistan Air Force achieved was to save the lives of 11 Chinese engineers who were present in the kamra base.
- The Saab-2000 AEW&C is not a system to be used in the ongoing fighting in Fata against the therik taliban pakistan. The long-range, high-endurance and deep radar coverage capability of the Saab-2000 AEW&C can challenge only the India’s air superiority in the region. So many analysts point figures towards the Indian hand behind the assault who is ultimately the beneficiary of the attack.
The writer is the editor of thefortress.com.pk