F-104B Reconnaissance at Mach 1

September 9, 1965, an F-104B flown by Flight Lieutenant Aftab Alam Khan of No 9 Squadron at Sargodha AB, on a high speed reconnaissance mission over Halwara, on 9 September 1965. In the environment of the India-Pakistan War, the low-speed RT-33 photo reconnaissance fleet of the PAF was rendered obsolete, for missions deep into enemy territory, and over heavily defended targets. There was an urgent requirement to survey the enemy concentration at the forward airfields and to observer the effectiveness of PAF's B-57 night bombing raids. To fulfill this need, the PAF immediately employed the F-104B. The rear seat observer operated a hand held camera and made visual observations; in this case it was Squadron Leader M. L Middlecoat. En route the aircraft was flown at tree top level, at a speed of 600 knots. Approaching the target the aircraft was accelerated to a speed greater than Mach 1. In this way the high speed capability of Starfighter was fully exploited. This was the first time such a profile was flown by an F-104 pilot. The mission was so successful that it was later repeated several times.

painting Gp Capt S M A Hussaini 1968