Crashes raise concern about Pakistani air force

Over a dozen Pakistani air force planes have crashed in…

Over a dozen Pakistani air force planes have crashed in roughly the past 18 months, raising concerns about the health of an aging fleet that officials are struggling to upgrade because of a lack of funds.

A significant number of the air force’s combat aircraft are nearly half a century old and have been called on in recent years to help the army fight a domestic Taliban insurgency that has killed thousands of people. This has added to the strain on a force that has historically focused on countering the threat from Pakistan’s neighbor and archenemy, India.

Pakistan has turned to the U.S. and China for help in modernizing its air force, but economic woes have strained the government’s budget, even for the country’s powerful military. Tension with the U.S. over a host of issues, including the covert raid that killed Osama bin Laden last year, also hasn’t helped.

Shahzad Chaudhry, a former senior Pakistani air force officer, said the number of planes that have crashed “would be worrying for any air force.”

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