Saiful Azam

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Group Captain Saiful Azam (born 1941) is a retired air force officer who served as a fighter pilot with the Pakistan Air Force in the years before 1971. After the independence of Bangladesh, he joined the Bangladesh Air Force.

Personal life and education[edit]

Azam was born in Khagarbaria Village, Pabna District, East Bengal (now Bangladesh) in 1941.[1] After completing his secondary school in then East Pakistan, he migrated to West Pakistan in 1956, before joining the Pakistan Air Force in 1958, successfully becoming an officer in the GD pilot branch in 1960.

His first cousin Air Vice Marshal Fakhrul Azam was Chief of Staff of Bangladesh Air Force from 2002 to 2007.[2]

Early career[edit]

After training with the Cessna T-37 aircraft and further education at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona with F-86 Sabres, in 1963, Azam was posted briefly in Dhaka before becoming an instructor with the T-33's at PAF's No. 2 Squadron (Jet conversion unit) in Mauripur, Karachi.[1] While still posted as an instructor, Azam flew in the September 1965 war with India as part of PAF's No. 17 Squadron PAF Base Sargodha, flying F-86's.[1] After returning from a successful ground attack, Azam's group encountered Indian Folland Gnat interceptors; Azam shot down Flight Officer Mayadev of the Indian Air Force. Azam was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat, Pakistan's third highest military award.[3] In 1966, he assumed the command of PAF's No. 2 Squadron.

In November 1966 he was sent by the PAF on deputation as an adviser to the Royal Jordanian Air Force.[1] He was one of the two Pakistani Air Force officers deputized, along with Flight Lieutenant M. Sarwar Shad. When the Six-Day War broke out in 1967 he flew a Hawker Hunter of the No. 1 squadron for the Royal Jordanian Air Force. Over a two-day period, Azam was involved in attacks at two different bases, for which he received Jordan's Order of Istiqlal and Iraq's medal of bravery, the Nut al-Shujat.[1] On June 5, 1967, he was called to defend Jordan's main base at Mafraq from the Israeli Air Force's Dassault Super Mystère aircraft. One of four Hunters flown by Pakistanis, Azam shot down an Israeli fighter and damaged another.[citation needed] On June 6, 1967, he was transferred to the Iraqi Air Force and was in western Iraq when four Israeli Vatour bombers escorted by two Mirage fighters attacked the airbase. One Mirage pilot, Captain Gideon Dror, shot down two Iraqi fighters including Azam's wingman, but was in turn shot down by Azam. Azam also shot down a Vatour bomber flown by Captain Golan.[citation needed] Both of them were taken as prisoners of war.

Later career[edit]

In 1969, he returned in service to Pakistan and spent several years as flight commander in various locations before the Independence of Bangladesh in 1971.[1] Azam entered service to Bangladesh Air Force after the war, serving as Director of Flight Safety and Director of Operations before he was given command of the Dhaka Air Base and promoted to Group Captain in 1977.

Azam retired from the Bangladesh Air Force in 1979 as a Group Captain, but continued public service in other capacities.[1] He served in the following appointments:

Subsequently, he entered private business as Managing Director of Natasha Trading Agency and as the director of a travel agency with his wife.[1]

Career achievements[edit]

Saiful Azam remains the only fighter pilot who has flown for four[4] air forces (Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq and Pakistan) at war, along with the unique distinction of having skills against two different air forces (India and Israel).[3] As of 2012, according to the Pakistan government, he holds the record for shooting down more Israeli aircraft than any other pilot.[3] They also indicate that the United States Air Force honored Azam in 2000 [5] and that Azam is "One of the twenty two 'Living Eagles' of the world".[3]

References[edit]