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Drones used in Pak air force, army war drills

A file photo of Pakistan's UAV Satuma (Surveillance And Target Unmanned Aircraft)

ISLAMABAD (PTI): The Pakistan Air Force today kicked off a special war game focused on using fighter jets and drones, which were used in the drills for the first time in conjunction with ground forces for counter-insurgency operations.

Eighteen combat jets, including Chinese-made F-7s, Mirages and F-16s participated in the exercise codenamed "Saffron Bandit 2009-10" that was held at the Thal firing range near Sargodha in Punjab province.

This is the first time that the PAF has deployed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in its drills, officials said. The war game is aimed at integrating aerial assets with ground forces for anti-terror operations, they said.

The manoeuvres were witnessed by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and PAF chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman. In his address, Kayani said the PAF played a vital role in the anti-militancy operations in Swat by providing support to the army.

During a briefing at the Air Headquarters, the army and air force chiefs were informed that a special counter-insurgency training programme was included in the exercise due to the current security threats to Pakistan.

PAF officials said during the briefing that the force could respond within three minutes in the event of any violation of the country?s airspace. The officials also said that a joint army-air force war game codenamed "Exercise High Mark" will be held next year.

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