KHAIRPUR TAMEWALI - Pakistan Army and Air Force yesterday demonstrated their skills and combat-readiness for defence of the country at a comprehensive joint exercise involving live firepower demonstrations.

Raad ul Barq - Thunder of Lightening - military exercise in Khairpur Tamewali firing range of Cholistan desert involved use of heavy artillery, fighter jets and air defence weapons.

The prime minister along with Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmoud and three services chiefs witnessed the movement of artillery Corp’s Khalid tanks successfully engaging targets in the firing range, some 70 kilometres from Bahawalpur.

During the exercise, a real wartime scene was created which gave panoramic view of the series of events from the dais, set at around 30 feet above the ground level that kept trembling like jelly with thunderous bangs of heavy artillery, tanks, missiles, bombs, arms and ammunition used in the exercise. The PAF’s fighter aircraft including JF-17 Thunder, F-7PG and Mirage hit the targets with agility and precision avoiding the radars.

The manoeuvring Mirage aircraft flew close to ground striking at the designated targets. The Firing Falcon - formation of four F-16 aircraft, each capable of carrying 24,000 pounds high explosive bombs enough to target 2 x 2 kilometres of land, successfully hit enemy’s targets.

The Cobra Gunship and Z10 helicopters fired missiles having six kilometres range and successfully engaged the targets. The helicopters of Army Aviation Combat Group that participated in the Operation Zarb-e-Azb also demonstrated their combat potential.

The exercise also demonstrated indigenously developed surface-to-air missiles, multi-barrel rocket launchers, sky radars for target detection and rocket-propelled target system.

The mechanised and marching troops of Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Army Air Defence exhibited professional skills by engaging the targets with precision and accuracy.

The newly introduced weapon FM90 having 20 kilometres range was also used and displayed during the exercise.

The demonstration concluded with a flypast by F-16 aircraft receiving thunderous applause by the audience.

Army Chief Army chief General Raheel Sharif presented a souvenir to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Defence Minister Khwaja Asif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Air Chief Air Marshal Sohail Aman and Naval Chief Admiral Zakaullah, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, National Security Adviser Lt-Gen Nasser Janjua and ambassadors of different countries also attended the event.

Deputy chief of staff of Saudi armed forces especially arrived on behalf of the Saudi Crown Prince to witness the military exercise.