Published In HILAL (Military Mag) Jan 2010
Air power puts a premium on accurate ground intelligence for precision targeting in this kind of warfare. COIN operations within ones own territories are not without some advantages. In cases where ‘shrubbery’ would be the pilots first guess upon catching sight of a flash of green in a sparsely populated area; ‘crude camouflage’ would be the assessment of a HUMNIT (human intelligence) familiar with the lay of the land.
The Flip Side of the PAF COIN
Analysts agree that dedicated slow speed ground attack aircraft (A-10 Warthog, Marine Harrier), gunship (AC130), would give the much needed loiter time. The Warthog is a rugged COIN bird, cheap to operate, easy to fly, with longer loiter time; and it can take off/land anywhere; the complete opposite of the magnificent F-16, in fact. While preference has been shown for the AC-130 gunship - a potent COIN weapon with accurate direct fire weapons which minimize risk of collateral damage, it is the more powerful gunship helicopter that one defence expert would put at the top of the wish list.
The protracted nature of COIN warfare puts a heavy demand on resources. The continuity of these operations is inextricably tied to a guaranteed logistical support. Heavy reliance on Western assistance can be a double edged sword. PAF Mirages and F-7’s already serve as makeshift COIN aircraft. And if the PAF were to completely rely on its own resources, some even believe that an old faithful (A-5) can take over; and if they cannot be equipped with LGB’s, they do not need to be for not every target requires an 18,000$ SMART bomb. Sometimes, kinetic weaponry (dud bombs) make just as effective missiles.
Acknowledgement: Air/Cdre (R) Sajad Haider & Air/Cdre(R) Kaiser Tufail
Images courtesy: http://www.mysargodha.com/images/videos/jf17thunder.jpg