No. 16 Squadron (Pakistan Air Force)

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No. 16 Squadron
Black Panthers
Active 1957 – Present
Country  Pakistan
Allegiance  Pakistan
Branch  Pakistan Air Force
Type Fighter squadron
Role Multi-role
Airbase PAF Base Peshawar
Aircraft JF-17 Thunder Block 1
Engagements 1971 Indo-Pakistani War
Aircraft flown
Attack Nanchang A-5C (1983—2011)
Fighter F-86F Sabre (1957—1972)
Shenyang F-6 (1982—1983)
JF-17 Thunder Block 1 (2011–Present)

No. 16 Squadron, nicknamed the Black Panthers, is a fighter squadron of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).


A model of the Shenyang F-6, armed with air-to-air missiles, on display at the PAF Museum Karachi.
A JF-17 performs at the Zhuhai Air Show 2010.

The squadron was established in 1957 under the command of Squadron Leader Imam-ul-Haq Khan, equipped with F-86F Sabre fighter aircraft and assigned the role of Tactical Attack. It was temporarily disbanded in 1963 and reestablished on 13 April 1970 at PAF Base Masroor, flying the F-86F Sabre and commanded by Wing Commander Sharbat Ali Changazi. In February 1971, as the Fighter Leaders School, the unit was assigned to train senior pilots in advanced tactics. Although the squadron was not employed in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, its pilots were transferred to PAF Base Peshawar, where they flew with the No. 26 Squadron. Changazi lead several strike missions into Indian territory and shot down an Indian Air Force Hawker Hunter. Squadron Leader Cecil Chaudhry, attached to No. 18 Squadron, was shot down by ground fire but ejected safely and later shot down an Indian Sukhoi Su-7.

The squadron was disbanded in October 1972 and reestablished in 1982 at PAF Base Rafiqui, equipped with the Shenyang F-6. It was decided that the Panthers would be the first squadron to be reequipped with the Nanchang A-5C attack fighter, and personnel were sent to China to be trained on it. The first batch of A-5s was delivered to PAF Base Rafiqui on 12 February 1983, a reequipment ceremony was held on 21 March 1983, the squadron was assigned the role of tactical attack, and Wing Commander Hamid Saeed Khan was put in command. A Pakistan Day flypast on 23 March 1983 earned the squadron a "Best Fly-Past" award. The Panthers also converted pilots of the No. 7 ("Bandits") and No. 26 ("Black Spiders") squadrons to fly the Nanchang A-5C. In November 1985, the unit began practicing with live 750 lb bombs and extensive Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) with the PAF's F-16 squadrons.

In 1988, more DACT sorties were flown against the Chengdu F-7P. Five A-5Cs were added to the squadron's fleet in May 1989, and in mid-1990 Wing Commander Zafar evaluated the upgraded A-5M and A-5F attack fighters in China. In 1991, three Shenyang FT-6 dual-seat fighters with Martin-Baker ejection seats were inducted for training purposes. In November 1991 the unit was temporarily transferred to Multan and flew 115 sorties from there with 100% serviceability and reliability rates. In 1997 the squadron was again temporarily transferred to PAF Base Mihas and Murid during runway recarpeting at the unit's parent airbase. A deployment to PAF Base Chaklala for Air Defence Alert duties was also carried out. In 1998 an A-5's canopy jettisoned during an Exercise Wide Awake sortie, but the aircraft landed safely.

During the 1996-2001 phase of the Afghan civil war A-5s of both the 16th and 26th Squadrons are reported to have flown strike missions against Northern Alliance positions as part of the Pakistani support to the Taliban.[1]

No. 16 Squadron
Black Panthers
Role Operational Aircraft Notes
F-86F Sabre
1991— ----
Shenyang F-6
Shenyang FT-6
Tactical Attack 1983—2011 Nanchang A-5C The PAF's first A-5C squadron.
Multi-role 2011—Present JF-17 Thunder Block 1 The PAF's second JF-17 squadron, A-5C retirement and JF-17 reequipment ceremony held in April 2011.



Annual and others[edit]

  • Armament exercises
  • Awards
    • ACES 97 (Air Combat Evaluations) – received ACES Trophy for best performing tactical attack squadron.
    • Inter-Squadron Dive Bombing Competition – No. 16 and 26 squadrons competed, No. 16 won.


  1. ^ Cooper, Tom; Troung; Koelich, Marc (10 February 2008). "Afghanistan, 1979–2001; Part 2". ACIG. Retrieved 23 December 2014.