From Fabric Wings to Supersonic Fighters and Drones
The famed, and dangerous North-West Frontier of India was a rocky, mountainous land between Afghanistan and the settled districts of the Punjab. A land of hardened Pashtun warriors, fervent clerics and too little water, once the problem of the British Indian Army and the Scouts it is now the problem of the Army of Pakistan and the Frontier Corps. Military aviation above the frontier has had little real attention, except for a number of light-hearted memoirs about the challenges of flying antiquated aircraft over precipitous terrain. The Pakistani Air Force has taken over the job with more modern aircraft, but it is only since 2004 that independent American activities in the ongoing fight against militancy in northern Pakistan have drawn widespread attention to air power over the frontier. But any wider study of the utility and challenges of air power in the region would be incomplete without a detailed look at the Soviet-Afghan War. Aviation came to Afghanistan relatively early and shares many of the same challenges as aviation in the neighbouring North-West Frontier Region.
The purpose of this book is to provide a compact, yet comprehensive history of air power in this region. It covers key aviation events, technological advances and shortcomings from the days of the fabric-covered bi-wing De Haviland bombers to the modern jets and armed drones of today. This look at the British, Pakistani, Afghan, Soviet and US efforts over this rugged terrain concludes with a number of pertinent contemporary lessons learnt that will apply to future military aviation in this region.