Pak air base attack: Saab surveillance aircraft damaged



Pak air base attack: Saab surveillance aircraft damaged Islamabad: A Saab-2000 airborne early warning aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force was damaged during the terrorist attack on Kamra air base, Defence Minister Naveed Qamar has said.

The nose of the aircraft was damaged when a group of heavily-armed terrorists stormed the air base in Punjab province early Thursday morning, Qamar told reporters last night.

After initial repairs in Pakistan, the aircraft will be sent to Sweden - where it was manufactured - for an inspection, he said.

Speaking after he was briefed by senior PAF officials, Qamar said the aircraft was hit either by bullets or fragments of a rocket-propelled grenade fired by the terrorists.

It was not clear whether the plane was airworthy.

"A test flight of the aircraft will be conducted after repairing it," the minister said.

Though the aircraft can be repaired in Pakistan, it will still be sent to the manufacturer for an inspection, Qamar said.

"The engineers and technicians of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex have examined the partially damaged aircraft, and according to the initial report, this most advanced aircraft of the Saab-2000 category can be repaired," he said.

Nine terrorists and two security personnel were killed during the attack. The terrorists, who were wearing military uniforms and suicide vests, tried to target a hangar with RPGs.

Eight terrorists were killed within the airbase while another blew himself up outside the perimeter.

The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying its suicide attackers targeted the airbase to avenge the killing of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

According to media reports, over three dozen aircraft were in the airbase at the time of the attack, including two Il-78 refuelling aircraft, 25 fighter jets and several Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft.

A PAF spokesman had said yesterday that only one aircraft was damaged in the attack.

The PAF had acquired four Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft from Sweden in 2010.

PTI