By carrying out a terrorist strike against the Minhas Air Base, the Tehreek-e-Taliban targeted perhaps the most important base-cum-aeronautical complex of Pakistan Air Force.
“It is like having Ambala air base with HAL Nashik and HAL Kanpur thrown in together. It is the most important PAF facility,” said a recently retired Indian Air Force chief.
Among other things, said another retired Indian air chief, the base serves as the place for preparing Pakistan’s nuclear aerial delivery platforms and systems.
The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex adjacent to the base is the site for the fighter upgrade programs for Pakistan’s F-16s, Mirage IIs, Chengdu FC-10s and the Chengdu F-6 fighters and Shenyang FT-6 trainers.
The base is also being used to test-fly the JF-17 Thunderbird multi-role fighter. This fighter, which Pakistan has developed in conjunction with China and is equipped with a Russian RD-93 engine, is likely to be the mainstay of the air force.
The Kamra base hosts the 33 multi-role fighter wing of the air force, one squadron of JF-17 and one squadron of FT-6 trainers. The airbase also houses the country’s crucial airborne early warning systems and other electronic warfare planes.
The PAF was able to counter the attack within hours in large part because the base was on high alert because of Independence Day celebrations and intelligence reports that a large attack was being planned.