saiful azam

Written by Damiya Saghir 11:47 am

Group Captain Saiful Azam and Air Commodore Sattar Alvi: A Tale of Two Shaheens

The author, Damiya Saghir, uncovers two heroic figures in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and their celebrated accomplishments. Introducing Group captain Saiful Azam and Air Commodore Sattar Alvi – two daring and wonderful air fighters.

About the Author(s)

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Ms. Damiya Saghir completed her Bachelor's in Political Science from Kinnaird College and is currently pursuing her MPhil in Political Science from the same university.  She was employed as a project officer at the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT.) Her areas of interest include politics, defense studies, International Relations, and governance.

The most heroic battles are fought by warriors who emanate valor and are from an institution that strengthens their skills with tenacity. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has been defending the aerial frontiers for many years and their determination not just stands limited to home soil but extends beyond the border as many of the air fighters have fought battles for other countries and brought home feats of courage.

Security forces are determined to fight the battles of homeland, so that a safe and secure environment continues for civilians to live in. Just like Pakistan Army, PAF is applauded for its training and participation in the Arab-Israel war. Pilots and leading commanders went to Jordan, Iraq, and Syria in 1967 and 1974.

Although they were unable to save Egypt from the Israeli conquest, their gallantry saved Jordan and Iraq. Later in 1974, the PAF again helped the Syrians in the war against Israel. Many of our pilots go unnoticed for their devoir and valor. They have left for us an ideal example of determination and courage which we have yet to explore.

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Group Captain Saiful Azam

Pakistan Air Force has on several occasions participated in a separate war away from home. Pakistan Air Force fighters went to train the Royal Jordan Air Force in 1967 when many of them also took part in the Yom Kippur war. One of them was Flight Lieutenant Saiful Azam.

Saiful Azam was born in 1941 in Faridpur, Bangladesh. As a 19-year-old, he got into Pakistan Air Force and is one of the few fighter pilots who fought for four countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Jordan. In 1967 when the Yom Kippur war broke out, the quintessential Azam was sent to train the Royal Jordan Air Force.

While his colleague was suffering in hospital due to some injuries, Azam participated in the war on his behalf. In Jordan, he had shot down an Israeli super Mystere over Mafraq Airbase. Two days later, he was transferred to the Iraqi base camp where he shot down two Israeli state-of-the-art Vautour bombers.

In 1965 he also participated in the war against India and till today he is still known as the highest shooter of Israeli aircraft. Saiful Azam was awarded Sitara-e-Jurat and two Iraqi awards. The US added him to the list of 22 ‘Living Eagles’. He retired from Bangladesh Air Force as a group captain and began his career in politics until he died in June 2020. One of the most superior names that continue to exist as feats of courage for Pakistan.

Air Commodore (Retd) Sattar Alvi

In 1974, the Arab-Israel war was initiated once again and this time it was Air Commodore (Retd) Sattar Alvi who proudly represented PAF. He downed an Israeli Mirage in Syria. It was an encounter over Golan Heights between a Mig-21 of the Syrian Air Forces and two Israeli Mirages.

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A Mirage was disintegrating after being hit by a missile, while the Mig-21, flown by Flight Lieutenant Sattar Alvi prepared to engage the second Mirage. Moments later, Alvi saw the second Mirage breaking towards him. During this time, the Israeli ground station was jamming radios and making it difficult for Pakistani pilots to communicate.

However, these tactics were something that Pakistani pilots had learned to survive with. Sattar forced the Israeli pair into close combat, firing his K-13 missile at the first opportunity. The Israeli wingman’s Mirage exploded into a ball of fire, while the leader quickly disengaged. Alvi retired as an Air Commodore and as a memento, his coverall hangs in the Pakistan Air Force Museum as an example of true heroism.

A rare breed indeed, Saiful Azam’s ebullient and courageous fighting inspires a shining flame of valor among the youth, and Sattar Alvi continues to represent his quintessential mettle and valor as an example of true leadership, sport, and loyalty in defending the aerial frontiers.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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