PAF F-104 Starfighter

delivery PAF serial fate remarks
June 20, 1961 56-802 November 13, 1963 crashed: the aircraft 'pitched up', and went into a spin. F/O Asghar Shah ejected safely at high speed and received major bruises. The aircraft was replaced under the MAP (Military Assistance Program) program; other reports (pilots) mention November 9, 1963.
June 21, 1961 56-803 September 3, 1964 crashed: ground contact during a low pull-out while practicing ground Strafing. F/L Tariq Masood died in the accident. The aircraft was replaced under the MAP (Military Assistance Program) program.
June 19, 1961 56-804 December 5, 1971 shot down by AAA fire in Amritsar area, S/L Amjad Hussain ejected, but was captured (POW)
shot down by Hav Ramaswamy, 27 AD Rgt.
S/L Amjad Hussain was shot down by AAA over Amritsar while attacking a radar installation. He is the only pilot who was shot down in both 65 and 71 wars.
804 was modified with SLARD (Short-range Low Altitude Radar Detection and RALOR (Radar Locator)
claim: Indian Folland Gnat F.1 shot down December 4, 1971 by S/L Amanullah Khan in 56-804 over Amritsar Radar.
June 21, 1961 56-805 July 10, 1968 written off: lost on ground July 10, 1968 due to fire while on ground. Pilot S/L Arif Iqbal survived.
June 19, 1961 56-807 April 15, 1968 crashed: lost April 15, 1968 due to an inflight fire. F/L Ghulam Abbasi died in the accident
June 18, 1961 56-868 September 17, 1965 crashed F/L Ghulam Abbasi crashed due to disorientation of the pilot while landing in low visibility (sandstorm) undershooting the runway at Peshawar, aircraft exploded, pilot was thrown clear and slightly hurt; F/L Ghulam Abbasi survived the accident
claim: September 6, 1965 Mystere IV-A claim AIM-9 kill overhead the Rahwali airfield
where a low powered radar was located, shot down by F/L Aftab Alam Khan
June 20, 1961 56-874 preserved preserved at PAF Sargodha AB (now PAF Base Mushaf), May 2017 noted
on display outside the Combat Commanders School at Sargodha; March 2019 noted.
claim: Canberra B-58 AIM-9B kill during night intercept on September 21, 1965;
shot down by W/C Jamal A. Khan
claim: HF-24 "Marut" strafing on ground at Utterlai AB December 11, 1971
(HF: "Hindustan Fighter") by S/L Amanullah Khan
32°3'13.12"N 72°40'0.61"E
June 18, 1961 56-875 preserved preserved on pole PAF HQ Chaklala, Islamabad-Chaklala, December 2013 last noted.
33°36'49.95"N 73° 5'11.08"E
875 was modified with SLARD (Short-range Low Altitude Radar Detection and RALOR (Radar Locator)
June 18, 1961 56-877 September 7, 1965 crashed over Sargodha AB, F/L Amjad Hussain shot down a Mystere VI A, flown by S/L A B Devayya, the Starfighter was hit by the debris of the exploding Mystere and was uncontrollable, F/L Amjad Hussain Khan ejected safely (see remark below).
claim: Indian Gnat forced to land at Pasrur AB September 3, 1965 (F/O Abbas Mirza)
June 18, 1961 56-879 preserved display on pole at PAF Base Masroor, Karachi-Mauripur; March 2020 last noted (Google).
claim: Indian Su-7 Fitter shot down December 4, 1971 by S/L Bhatti in 56-879 over Amritsar
24°52'51.67"N 66°57'24.86"E
May 1, 1964 56-773 December 13, 1971 shot down Pilot W/C M L Middlecoat died after the ejection, shot down by F/L Bharat B. Soni in a MiG-21FL over Gulf of Kutch after attack on Jamnagar AB, pilot ejected but was not found (KIA); other reports mention December 12, 1971

A formation of two F-104’s was tasked on 13th December to strike IAF airfield at Jamnagar. Wg Cdr Mervin L Middlecoat was to lead this mission with Sqn Ldr Tariq Habib as his No.2. The formation ingressed for the strike at low level, with the Starfighters configured with wingtip tanks and two Sidewinders under the wings. Close to the target the formation pulled-up to 2-3000 feet with target offset to their right by 2-3 miles in order to line up for their strafing runs. For some reason Middlecoat who was leading the strike banked to the left while target was on the right. Habib gave him a call to correct this. Repositioning for the strafing run resulted in formation spending another minute or two near the target area. After repositioning the formation was again going in for a strafing run, Middlecoat gave Habib a call saying that a missile has been fired at him. Habib cleared his six but did not see anything. Moments later while exiting and over the Gulf of Kutch, Habib got a call from Middlecoat saying that he has been hit and is ejecting. Habib inquired if he could make it to overland but he replied the negative. Habib saw Middlecoat ejecting and the Starfighter going into the water while inverted. At that moment Habib noticed a MiG-21 to his right. As he pulled up to convert behind the MiG-21 his auto-pitch control malfunctioned and the aircraft nose started oscillating. After disengaging the APC Habib safely exited from the area.

Later from various published Indian accounts it transpired that two IAF MiG-21’s had intercepted the Starfighters while they were lining up for the strafing run. The lead MiG-21 had fired an Atoll missile at Middlecoat’s F-104 which missed, but was able to close-in for a gun kill. Wg Cdr M L Middlecoat was declared MIA.
(by Usman Shabbir & Yawar A Mazhar)
March 1, 1965 56-798 preserved preserved inside Pakistan Air Force Museum at Faisal AB, Karachi
April 2011 noted; June 2022 last noted
24°52'20.19"N 67°5'45.93"E
June 21, 1961 57-1309 preserved preserved at PAF Academy, PAF Risalpur AB
June 22, 2021 last noted
34°3'47.59"N 71°59'1.67"E
June 21, 1961 57-1312 preserved preserved with false code "57-1309" in the open in the Pakistan AF Museum at Faisal AB, Karachi
January 15, 2004 first noted (after Karachi-Sharea Faisal, Drigh Road)
February 8, 2012 noted; June 2023 last noted.
24°52'17.01"N 67°5'48.75"E

The F-104 Starfighters remained in service with Pakistan Air Force for twelve years and flew 11.690 hours.
During the 1965 Pakistan-India War, the F-104s flew a total of 246 hours and 45 minutes while during the 1971 war,
the F-104s flew only a total of 103 hours and 45 minutes.

Of the fourteen aircraft, two were officially lost in the 1965 War.

Due to the poor economic situation and Western arms embargos, the condition of the PAF F-104-fleet by the early 1970s was so poor, that most of the aircraft were non-operational and the sole unit that flew the type, No.9 Squadron, was provided with old F-86Fs to keep pilot hours up. The situation improved significantly in March 1971, when the USA channeled a shipment of spares to Pakistan, enabling the PAF to make the remaining five F-104A and two F-104B operational again.

No 9 Squadron moved to Masroor AB from Sargodha AB on December 6, 1971 with a total of 7 F-104s (5 F-104A, 2 F-104B).
Commanding Officer was W/C Arif Iqbal.
Another two (plus a RJAF F-104A) were lost to Indian AAA fire and MiGs respectively in the 1971 conflict.
Today six of the original fourteen are known to be preserved at various locations in Pakistan.

Only three of the aircraft has a combat history as far as we know.
- 56-0874 preserved at Peshawar had a Canberra night kill in the 1965 war and strafed a HF-24 on the ground at Uttarlai in the 1971 operations.
- 56-0879 preserved at Masroor shot down a Indian Su-7 Fitter on December 4, 1971 over Amritsar.
- 56-0804 shot down a Indian Folland Gnat F.1 on December 4, 1971 over Amritsar.

At PAF's request, all its F-104As were refitted with the M61 20 mm Gatling gun, whereas its counterparts in the USAF had been divested of their guns on the assumption that all post-Korea air combat would occur at high speeds where only the wing tip-mounted Sidewinder missiles would be effective.
The PAF's foresight was amply rewarded in actual combat and the USAF too reverted to having machine guns as mandatory equipment on all its fighters in due course. The newer GE J-79-11A engine was also installed on the aircraft. The F-104A was able to carry AIM-9B Sidewinder air-to-air missiles on the wing tips and later (1971) as well on the underwing pylons. This made the Pakistan F-104s somewhat unique:
They had the gun and being the lightest of the F-104 series with a more advanced J-79 engine enjoyed the best thrust-to-weight ratio.
A retractable hook was fitted beneath the rear fuselage to engage emergency runway arrestor wires.

The US Government imposed an embargo on arms sales to both India and Pakistan as soon as the 1965 war began.
No consideration was given to the fact that India, a long-time ally of the Soviet Union, hardly used any American military equipment
and the sanctions exclusively degraded the combat potential of only the Pakistani Armed Forces.

The PAF fleet of F-104 was particularly hard hit by the arms embargoes. Eventually it became impossible to maintain a reasonable in-commission rate on the F-104s and the PAF decided to phase it out of service in late 1972. This ended the era of Pakistan Air Force's first Mach 2 combat aircraft.

Today six of the original fourteen are known to be preserved at various locations in Pakistan.

Royal Jordanian Air Force assistance during the 1971 war
Nine F-104As of the RJAF arrived at Masroor (Mauripur) Air Base on December 13, 1971. The Jordanian pilots who ferried them were all operational pilots and they flew many air defense missions on these fighters within the Pakistani air space. The PAF did not allow them to fly cross-border offensive missions over the Indian territory.
Royal Jordanian AF F-104A in Pakistan: 56-767, 56-774, 56-775, 56-777, 56-789, 56-799, 56-839, 56-843, 56-845.
The Royal Jordanian AF aircraft were painted with PAF roundels during the 71 war. (Usman Shabbir, November 20, 2007)
The Pakistan AF lost three F-104 during the 1971 war including a RJAF F-104A with tail number 56-767 on .
(F/L Samad Changezi was shot down (KIA) by F/L Aruna Datta flying a MiG-21FL). (Usman Shabbir, November 14, 2007)

RJAF F-104A loss calls for 56-787, but this serial number was never operated by the RJAF, but was lost by the ROCAF on October 10, 1964
An unsavoury surprise came on the morning of December 17th, the last day of the war, when two Uttarlai-based MiG-21FL escorting a flight of four HF-24 on a morning army support mission, bounced a pair of patrolling F-104 near Naya Chor. After a head-to-head blow through, both pairs turned for each other. Flt Samad Changezi, the F-104 wingman, apparently having spotted the pair earlier, split from the formation and maneuvered to get behind the lead MiG-21. He had to close in to gun range as no missiles were being carried – an inexplicable error by the mission planners. [1] In the meantime the MiG-21 wingman, Flt Lt Arun Datta, was able to close in behind Changezi’s F-104 and fire a missile which missed its target. The F-104 leader, Flt Lt Rashid Bhatti, flying 56-839 (RJAF), warned Changezi to disengage and exit as he had been fired at, but the warning was disregarded in the heat of combat. That inattention earned Changezi a fatal penalty, when a second K-13 missile slammed into his aircraft with an explosion that left no chance of ejection. [2] A squirming Bhatti thought of chasing Datta’s MiG-21 but, being low on fuel and unsuitably armed, he wisely decided against any more recklessness.
[1] It was decided to use the RJAF aircraft for night air defence without missiles (i.e. gun only), making the wingtips available for carriage of drop tanks instead of carrying them under wings, which increased the drag by about 45%. The rationale was that with the limited effort available, staying in the air for a longer duration was a better pay-off in terms of deterrence, rather than carrying out futile night interceptions in the absence of an effective low level GCI radar or a worthwhile AI radar.
[2] The downed aircraft was RJAF F-104 serial number 56-787.
The mentioned aircraft was 56-767 (Flieger Revue Extra Nr.30 September 2010, ISSN 0941/889X, Usman Shabbir)

2 more Indian kill claims!
The IAF also claims 2 other F-104's on the last day of the conflict, but lucky for the PAF, both those F-104's returned to base with severe gun and missile damage from prowling IAF FL's. Apparently both of these were also RJAF Starfighter!

F/L Amjad Hussain shot down a Mystere, 56-877 on September 7, 1965
Recent research conducted by Air Cdre Kaiser Tufail, which involved interviewing multiple witnesses, confirmed that Amjad indeed had a midair collision with the Mystere VI A and was not shot down.


STARFIGHTER in the PAF battle fleet
Flieger Revue Extra Nr.30 September 2010, ISSN 0941/889X-Usam Shabbir
compiled by: Hubert Peitzmeier
update: @ June 19, 2022
Given information is based on best available references, any proven correction is welcome!
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