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PAF fighter pilot dies as F-16 crashes during Pakistan Day rehearsals

Wing Commander Noman Akram was the Commanding Officer of Sargodha-based 9 Squadron, which participated in Pakistan’s response to the Balakot air strikes.

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New Delhi: A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pilot was killed Wednesday when an F-16 fighter aircraft crashed in Islamabad during rehearsals for a parade on Pakistan Day, observed on 23 March. 

The crash occurred while the pilot, Wing Commander Noman Akram, was attempting a manoeuvre mid-air.

Akram was awarded the coveted Sher Afgan Trophy for being the best marksman in a competition last year. He was the Commanding Officer of the Sargodha-based 9 Squadron, the first fighter squadron of the PAF. 

The squadron had taken part in the PAF operation Swift Retort on 27 February, a day after the Indian Air Force (PAF) conducted the Balakot air strikes against a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist camp in Pakistan.

Wing Commander Akram was also the one who flew Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in an F-16 when he visited the Sargodha base in December last year.


Also Read: 1965 India-Pakistan war: How IAF’s heroes slayed PAF’s superior Sabre fighter jets


A memorial for his squadron

Even though his squadron took part in Swift Retort, Akram’s name is reportedly not mentioned on the memorial erected by the PAF to commemorate the operation.

It mentions two namesakes, including Wing Commander Noman Ali Khan, who has been credited with shooting down the MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman during the IAF’s retaliation against the strike.

However, it could not be immediately verified if he had a role to play in the operation. 

How the crash happened

There are many videos of the crash, which was witnessed by many people. The videos show the aircraft attempting a loop before crashing to the ground in a ball of fire.

Experts pointed out that the aircraft probably stalled.

The Pakistan Air Force has ordered a Court of Inquiry into the accident and the exact reason will come out only once the probe is completed.

According to procedures, the black box will be shared with an American technical team as the aircraft is manufactured by US firm Lockheed Martin.

Not the first F-16 crash for the PAF

Since the first crash on 22 October 1994, eight other Pakistani F-16s have crashed, according to official records. The last officially recorded crash took place on 17 July 2009 when a fighter flown by Squadron Leader Saud Ghulam Nabi went down during a night-training mission, according to F-16.net, a website that tracks the fighters across the world. The pilot was killed.

The website does not mention the F-16 downed by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on 27 February — a crash Pakistan denies ever happened


Also Read: F-16 never stood a chance to be in IAF fleet. Lockheed Martin messed it up so much


 

 

 

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