‘Mysterious’ F-15 Heavyweight Fighter Appears In Pakistan’s Promo Video; PAF Pilot Traces Its Origin
An F-15 air superiority fighter has appeared in a promotional video of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), despite the jet neither being a part of its inventory nor the country ever considering acquiring it.
Whether an inadvertent mistake or just a casual placement of the plane among the lineup of jets is not clear, but its appearance has certainly puzzled military aviation watchers.
The top-tier US heavyweight fighter, which is also the frontline jet in other air forces like Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and Japan, was featured in a video that commemorates the 147th birth anniversary of the country’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
To honor the life of the ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ (as he is popularly known), celebrations were held all over the country. The PAF put out a two-and-a-half-minute documentary, “Pakistan Air Force on the Path to Modernization.”
It would be pertinent to note that the PAF only recently concluded massive exercises with the Chinese and Turkish Air Forces, and a lot of the equipment displayed in the video originated from these countries – top arms suppliers to Pakistan. The two countries were among 14 nations that participated in the massive multinational Exercise Indus Shield in mid-October.
No matter how tough siutation remains!!! Pakistan Air Force has always stood high due its sheer professionalism and focused approach to become a hard hitting force!
Presenting you latest glimpes of PAF's J-10C, JF-17C, F-16C, Akinic, WL-II and many other latest smart inductions! pic.twitter.com/EH0yEMBqBm
— Air Operations Syndicate (@AirOpsSyndicate) December 25, 2023
F-15 In Pakistan Air Force Video
The JF-17 Thunder is in the middle, flanked by the older F-16 AM-Block 15 or a BM-Block 17 version on its left and the more advanced F-16C/D Block-52 on its right. On its rear left-hand side is the newly acquired J-10C from China, and on its rear right-hand side is the mysterious F-15.
The presence of the F-15 also contradicts the PAF doctrine’s single-engine centricity, which avoids large heavy-weight twin-engine fighters – and the tedious logistical and attendant higher financial implications.
The line-up also has Turkish-made Bayraktar Akinci and TB-2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV), an Il-76 aerial refueling tanker, and C-130J Hercules/L-100 tactical military cargo aircraft.
The rest of the video shows a pilot entering the JF-17 cockpit; the Akinci and the TB-2 taxiing on the runway before takeoff; the F-16C/D Block-52 at the end of the runway before flight; the J-10, Akinci, F-16C/D Block-52 taking off; cockpit video from inside a J-10C showing another J-10 on its right lifting up; an F-16 and a JF-17 behind an Il-78 tanker and a clip from inside the cockpit of an F-16 showing his wingman banking left.
Another shot inside the hangar shows JF-17s on a repair line and a Chinese Wing Loong-2 UCAV taking off without any payload.
A JF-17 also releases unguided drop bombs. While it is not known whether the PAF had an intended political message, which is mostly likely not the case, the JF-17 Thunder, the J-10C, and the Akinci drones get the most screen time in the video, signaling Islamabad’s burgeoning defense, industrial and commercial ties with Turkey and China.
Indeed, this does not mean Pakistan is decidedly moving away from the US like the UAE or Saudi Arabia. It is just that Pakistan finds the two nations more suited to the current tectonic shifts in geopolitical equations and its own needs, affected by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Where Did The F-15 Come From?
That leaves the question: Why is there an F-15 in the promotional video? Retired Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter pilot Squadron Leader Ali Hamza simply pointed out that the photograph was from the Indus Shield exercise (mentioned above), where all the participating countries’ major aircraft were photographed.
Saudi Arabia sent its F-15s, and thus its presence in the video. It appears that the media and publicity team at either the PAF or the Director General Inter-State Public Relations (DG-ISPR) used some of the publicity material from the Indus Shield for this short documentary.
Hamza also drew attention to a patch of the logo of Indus Shield exercises, which showed the roundels of the Pakistan, Turkish, and Saudi Arabian air forces. An F-16, J-10C, and an F-15 (the three leading aircraft of the three air forces) were also depicted on the patch as the frontline aircraft of the maneuvers.
The PAF had billed the Indus Shield as “one of the top-notch stands out as one of the mega aerial warfare exercises of the region and is marked as a significant milestone in the realization of PAF’s commitment to enhance its aerial capabilities alongside bolstering international cooperation.”
Hamza said such maneuvers are often the “best way to learn about other weapons systems and refine one’s tactics.”
India Can Hate, But Not Ignore Pakistan
On a different note, exercises like the Indus Shield or the AMAN naval drills also represent Pakistan’s diplomatic standing and geopolitical clout, which hosted military personnel and capital weapons from diverse countries.
For instance, the 2021 iteration of the AMAN naval drills saw India’s neighbors like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and China participating, along with warships from regional and global powers like Russia, the US, the UK, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The 2023 installment, held in February, too saw the American, Chinese & Turkish navies participating.
In other words, Pakistan hosted Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and American naval vessels amid severe strategic tensions, indicating India’s approach to isolate it as a “terror hub” is finding no takers.