The Pakistan Air Force on Sunday deployed its first air-to-air refuelling aircraft during an ongoing air exercise, with officials describing the event as a "milestone" in the enhancement of the force's capabilities.
The Il-78 air-to-air refuelling aircraft, which was inducted into the PAF in December last year, took active part in the High Mark 2010 exercise and refuelled two fighter jets, officials said.
Pakistan is expecting the delivery of three more refuelling aircraft by June, a PAF official told state-run APP news agency.
"By virtue of its ability to refuel air defence aircraft in the air, PAF's overall capability in terms of its effectiveness to defend the airspace... has significantly enhanced," the official said.
The High Mark exercise, which began a week ago, has been tailored to include manoeuvres with the army and navy to enhance the ability to conduct joint operations by the three services, officials said.
The exercise covers the entire country, from Skardu in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south.
High Mark is also aimed at conducting operations in a "near-realistic tactical environment" while integrating new weapon systems and providing "role-oriented training to combat and support elements of the PAF and other services".
"It is designed to achieve stipulated objectives with special emphasis on exposing PAF combat crew to simulated air battles based on contemporary concepts," an official said.
All main operating bases for peacetime and wartime forward operating bases are participating in the ongoing exercise.
Newly inducted aircraft like the JF-17 Thunder combat jets and Saab-2000 airborne warning and control aircraft are participating in the exercise for the first time.