Military Wiki
Pakistan Naval Air Arm
File:Pakistan Naval Station Mehran.jpg
Command Naval Aviation logo, COMNAV
Active 1971 – Present
Country  Pakistan
Branch Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg Pakistan Navy
Type Naval aviation
Size 50 aircraft
Part of Pakistan Navy
Naval Air Headquarters Mehran Naval Air Base, Sindh Province, Pakistan
Nickname(s) Pakistan Naval Aviation
Motto(s) Resources are limited; creativity is unlimited
Colors Navy blue and White         
Engagements 1999 Atlantique Incident
2001 Indo-Pakistan standoff
War on Terror
Combined Task Force 150
Commander Naval Air Arm, COMNAV Commodore Khalid Pervaiz, PN
Roundel Roundel of the Pakistani Air Force.svg
Aircraft flown
Attack Westland Lynx, Dassault Mirage V (Operated by PAF)
Raytheon Hawker 800
Helicopter Aérospatiale SA-319B Alouette III, Aérospatiale Alouette II, Harbin Z-9
Patrol Lockheed P-3C Orion, Fokker F27-2000, Breguet Atlantique, Britten-Norman Defender
Reconnaissance SATUMA Mukhbar (UAV)
Transport Westland Sea King

The Pakistan Naval Air Arm (unofficially Pakistan Naval Aviation) is the naval aviation and naval warfare service branch of the Pakistan Navy.

The Naval Air Arm is tasked to carry out air surveillance, limited aerial warfare, and reconnaissance operations. The Naval Air Arm was created after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and it is designed to operate in all facets of naval operations ranging from surveillance, tracking and subsequent destruction of enemy units.[1] The arm also takes part in operations other than war such as search and rescue, casualty evacuation, relief operations.[2][3] Early in its inception the Naval Air Arm was dependent upon the Air Force and the Army to meet its training requirement of air and ground crew.[4]


After the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, the Navy attempted to established the naval air branch to sustain the purely defence naval strategy of Pakistan.[5] Chief of Naval Staff Muzaffar Hassan made an unsuccessful attempt to established the air wing in the Navy, but this was impossible to achieve.[5] The lack of funds and the PAF itself objected the plans.[5] The air force objected any attempts as the air force saw the potential risked of losing aircraft in open-sea operations, therefore Lieutenant-General Abdul Rahim Khan, chief of air staff, remains positively hostile towards the creation of the naval air arm.[5]


The Naval Air Arm was created after the careful analysis of Operation Trident during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It was established that lack of early warning from seaward, for example the absence of a naval air surveillance capability, had allowed the Indian Navy to close Karachi harbour for attacks. After studying various available options, the French Breguet Atlantique was selected and acquisition formalities were completed in 1974. Finally the first squadron was raised in 1976, with three Atlantiques.

Naval Air Squadrons

On 28 September 1974, the first of the six Westland Sea King helicopters was also acquired from the United Kingdom, marking the introduction of naval aviation and rotary wing aircraft in the service. 111 Squadron was established for these rotary wing aircraft.

To support the Naval Air Fleet, the naval base, P.N.S. Mehran was commissioned on 26 September 1975 as Naval aviation's headquarters. The base is approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Jinnah Terminal. Sea King helicopters were the first machines to fly from this base. Atlantique and Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopters soon joined the Naval Air Arm. As the formation year of 1976 coincided with 29th year of Pakistani independence, the first squadron of Atlantiques was named 29 ASW Squadron. In 1977, six Alouette helicopters were acquired from France leading to the formation of 333 Squadron. In 1982 Fokker F-27 Aircraft were acquired, leading to the formation of 27 Squadron.

In early 1994, three Lynx helicopters were acquired from the United Kingdom leading to the formation of 222 Squadron. In 1996, three P-3C Orion aircraft were acquired from United States and were inducted into 28 Squadron of the Naval Air Arm. The delivery of these long range maritime patrol aircraft had earlier been withheld due to the application of the Pressler Amendment in 1990. One of these planes was lost due to an accident while carrying out routine exercises in own coastal waters on 29 October 1999.

Atlantique Incident

An Atlantique plane belonging to the Italian Navy. The downed Pakistan Navy plane was an identical one.

The Atlantique Incident was a major international incident that occurred on 10 August 1999 when a Pakistan Naval Air Arm patrol aircraft—a Breguet Atlantique with 16 personnel on board—was shot down in the border area of the Kutch region by Indian Air Force jets. Pakistan and India both claimed the aircraft to be in their respective airspace. However, the wreckage fell well within Pakistani territory, giving credence to the Pakistani claim.

The Indian Air Force stated that the Atlantique was trying to return to Pakistani airspace after intruding more than 10 nautical miles (19 km) and as such was headed towards Pakistan. At the speed of 400 knots at which the shoot-down occurred most of the wreckage could have been expected to land at least 25 miles (40 km) away; the fact that all of the wreckage fell in Pakistani territory would tend to vindicate Pakistani claims that the aircraft did not violate Indian airspace. This incident resulted in escalated tensions between the two neighbouring countries.

Tehreek-i-Taliban attack

On 22 May 2011, Tehreek-i-Taliban attacked the PNS Mehran naval base and destroyed 2 P-3C Orion aircraft.[6]

Naval Air Bases

Pakistan Naval Air Arm Alouette III on board PNS Tippu Sultan at Portsmouth in 2005

Aircraft inventory

Aircraft Operational Role Quantity Notes
P-3C Orion
Pakistan Navy Orion Asuspine.jpg
1996 MPA 7 Three P-3C Orion's acquired in 1996; one lost to crash in 1999. Seven Upgraded P-3C MPA and P-3B AEW models (equipped with Hawkeye 2000 AEWC system) ordered in 2006.[7] In June 2010, three upgraded P-3Cs joined the Pakistan Navy with anti-ship and submarine warfare capabilities while 2 were received in early 2011.[7] Two upgraded aircraft were destroyed in an attack by armed militants at the Mehran Naval Airbase in May,2011.[8] In June 2011, the U.S. agreed to replace the destroyed aircraft with two new ones, with delivery to follow later.[9] In February 2012, the U.S. delivered two additional P3C Orion aircraft to the Pakistan Navy.[10]
Breguet Atlantic
Pakistan Navy Breguet 1150 Atlantic Asuspine-1.jpg
1976 MPA 2 6 were delivered as of 2011. Two Crashed, 2 Unservisable/Beyond service life
Westland Sea King
Pakistan Navy Westland Sea King Asuspine-1.jpg
1974 ASW, ASuW, SAR 6 [11][12]
2050 ASW/Transport 350 Seven acquired in 1980s,[7][13]
Raytheon Hawker-800XP.jpg
1985 Electronic warfare 1 1 was delivered as of 2009.
Aérospatiale Alouette III SA-319B
Alouette IIICS5.jpg
1977 Training, SAR, Reconnaissance. 8 8 were delivered as of 2009.
Harbin Z-9
FS CdG Dauphin.jpg
2009 anti-submarine warfare 120 12 are in service as of 2011. Earlier operated by PAF, Later transferred to Pakistan Navy
2045 Transport aircraft 200 Two inducted in August 2013.[14][15][16]

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

UAV Operational Role Quantity Notes
2010 Reconnaissance -- UQAB-II has a range of 100 km and endurance of more than 6 hours. The aircraft can carry a 20 kg payload consisting of a gyro-stabilized Gimbal with color day camera, and a thermal imager with target tracking and locking capabilities which can transmit real time video to the aircraft's ground control station (GCS). The UQAB's GCS is a truck mounted air-conditioned, insulated container equipped with ruggedized consoles.[17] First squadron inducted in July 2011.[18]

Retired aircraft

Squadron Operational Aircraft Role Comments
16 Squadron 1980-1981 Grumman Albatross
SAR Four Inherited to Navy by Air Force tasked with the SAR. It is believed that the aircraft are retired in 1981.[19]
222 Squadron Stingrays 1982-2012 Westland Lynx
Surveillance/ASW/SAR Three helis grounded as of 2012.[20]



  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Goldrick, James (1997). No Easy Answers. New Delhi, India: Lancer's Publications and Distributors. pp. 63/65/66. ISBN 1-897829-02-7. 
  6. Taliban destroy two Pakistan navy P-3Cs
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Pakistan to receive US surveillance P3C Orion this year". 28 January 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  11. Lake, Jon. "Westland Sea King: Variant Briefing". World Air Power Journal. Page 130, Volume 25 Summer 1996. London:Aerospace Publishing. ISBN 1-84702-379-4. ISSN 0959-7050. pp. 110–135.
  13. "Pakistan to get US surveillance plane this year". 28 January 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  14. "Navy gets two ATR 72 aircraft". 16 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  15. "Navy ready to counter all threats: naval chief". 16 August 2013. Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  16. "Two ATR-72 aircraft inducted in PN fleet". 15 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013. 
  17. "UQAB-II". 
  18. Siddiqui, Salman (July 20, 2011). "Navy inducts first fleet of reconnaissance drones". Retrieved April 14, 2013. 

External links

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