According to a recent statement by Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, the Pakistan Air Force is unable to shoot down intruding US drones because of their high altitude which is higher than even the reach of PAF’s most high tech fighter jet, F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The Nation has quoted Rehman Malik as saying:
Our effort remains focused on finding a diplomatic solution to halt drone attacks. We feel they are counter-productive. Drone missiles cause collateral damage. A few militants are killed, but the majority of victims are innocent citizens.
The statement is not less than an April Fool joke because:
|Year||Number of Drone Strikes||Number Killed (Min)||Number Killed (Max)|
As of today, there have been a total of 234 drone attacks in Pakistan in which mostly only two types of drones have been used:
- MQ-1 Predator – (25,000 ft service ceiling mentioned by official manufacturer)
- MQ-9 Reaper – (50,000 ft service ceiling mentioned by Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles)
Further, both the drones use AGM-114 Hellfire Missile to destroy their targets which has a maximum range of 9,000 m. This means the drones cannot fire their missiles to destroy a target while flying at their maximum leveled flight altitude (service ceiling) and have to descend down to at least a height of 9,000 m – 10,000 m in order to achieve a lock and to fire the missiles.
Now, let’s analyze Pakistan Air Force Arsenal:
- JF-17 Thunder – (55,500 ft service ceiling mentioned by official manufacturer)
- F-7 Skybolt – (58,398 ft service ceiling mentioned by Air Force World)
- F-16 Fighting Falcon – (60,000 ft service ceiling mentioned by official USAF website)
- Mirage III/V – (59,000 ft service ceiling mentioned by Federation of American Scientists)
Therefore all fighter jets of PAF are capable of engaging any of the usual intruding American drones even at their highest altitude.
Remember as mentioned earlier, for launching the missiles drones fly down to around a height of just 9,000 – 10,000 feet which is even within the range of anti-aircraft guns of the Pakistan Army.
Further, PAF’s Surface to Air Missiles are also very much capable of downing any type of American drone that intrudes into Pakistani airspace.
It is also important to mention that fighter jets can use a pop-up technique to go even beyond their service ceiling for a small period of time.
It’s clear from the above analysis that the only thing that stops Pakistan Military from downing American drones is the lack of Official Permission from the Civilian Government rather than any military weakness.
Pakistani Military Overview
For a complete overview of the Military of Pakistan watch the video embedded below: