SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
On Thursday, Amrullah Saleh, the Vice President of Afghanistan, alleged that the Pakistan Air Force was providing close air support to the Taliban, he tweeted that the Pakistan air force has issued an official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas.”.
He added that Pakistan had warned Afghanistan aircraft to stay away from Spin Boldak or risk getting shot down. In 80’s Pakistan Air force several times could fly into afghan airspace and shoot down Soviet/Afghan attack aircraft and choppers that were usually attacking Afghan Mujahideen’s position. Pakistani fighter F-16 jets were usually seen roaming in Afghan airspace, harassing strike fighter jets like Su-22 that we’re incapable of having dogfights with the F-16s.
PAF F-16 Pilots were notorious and flew combat air patrol near Afghan air space looking for easy kills that often included defenseless Transport aircraft like An-26 and Mi-8 Helicopters that were flying within their airspace quite often. In 1987 while trying to ambush pair of Mig-23, one F-16 was shot down by another F-16 in the vicinity. The pilot reportedly ejected in Afghan airspace but was recovered by Afghan Mujahideens and Pakistani special forces.
The Afghan air force is largely made up of Brazilian turboprop EMB 314 Super Tucano light attack aircraft and a few Mi-24 Hind Attack helicopters that will be in no position to fight Pakistan’s fighter jets even in their own air space but Pakistan will attack any aircraft near its border and later claim it had violated its airspace, which was its usual response to every Afghan aircraft that was shot down in the ’80s.
The only thing that is stopping the Taliban from entering Kabul and taking control of the whole of Afghanistan is the air power that only present Kabul administration has and Pakistan seems to be very upset that it will not days but months for the Taliban to take control of Kabul and use of effective airpower has somehow derailed and slowed the advances of the Taliban to certain levels, that seems to have not gone well within Pakistan.
India on the other hand seems to have supplied nearly 40 tons of small-arm ammunition to the Afghan forces that will indeed help them sustain the fight but if Pakistan can clean the Afghan air force by shooting them down while attacking Taliban positions it will tilt the balance in favor of Taliban that will eventually see fall of Kabul in a matter of weeks if not months.
In the ’80s Americans had flooded Afghan Mujahideen with Stringer Man-Portable Surface to Air missiles that were instrumental also in attacking Soviet Attack Gunships but the same American has failed to provide new batches of the Stringer MANPADS and Air Defence systems for the protection of its airspace in fear that it might fall in hands of Taliban. India needs to neither offer its air force, not for operations against the Taliban but to provide air cover to the Afghan air force to prevent Pakistani air force intrusions in the Afghan airspace or it can start will supply of MANPADS or older stock of Russian Pechora air defense systems to act as a deterrence.
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