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  THE STAR FIGHTERS' FAREWELL FLIGHT



THE STAR FIGHTERS' FAREWELL FLIGHT
1972



After eleven years of eventful service, a pair of No.9 Squadron's F-104As lifts off the Masroor runway to mark the Lockhead Starfighter's last mission in the PAF. The F-104's life in the PAF was cut short by the United States Government's "even-handed" arms embargo on both Pakistan and India after the 1965 and 1971 wars. Washington chose to ignore the fact that India, a long-time ally of the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War, did not possess any American military equipment and the sanctions thus exclusively penalized the armed force of Pakistan. In the face of increasing difficulty in obtaining spares, the PAF finally decided in mid-1972 to phase out the starfighters. The PAF's F-104s were somewhat unique. While being the lightest among the starfighters in combat configuration, the more powerful J-79-IIA engines gave them additional manoeuvre energy. The 20mm Galling gun, retrofitted to the PAF's F-104s by specific request, also added to the fighter's combat effectiveness. Many heavyhearted airmen and officers of No 9 Squadron witnessed the farewell flight, some of them served in the Squadron for two wars. From among the Squadron's veteran pilots, the two took up the Starfighters for the last time.
 
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