PNS Mehran is the first Naval Air Station of Pakistan. Located in Karachi, the base is the headquarters of the Pakistan Navy’s Naval Air Arm. It provides installation support to the Naval Air Arm’s surveillance, maritime patrol and reconnaissance missions.
PNS Mehran was attacked by the Pakistani Taliban terrorists on 22 May 2011. Six armed militants cut the barbed wire and entered the base premises from the rear side. The terrorists destroyed two P-3C Orion aircraft parked at the base. Foreigners at the base, including 11 Chinese and six Americans, were rescued by the Special Service Group (SSG) commandos. The rescue operation lasted for about 16 hours and resulted in the death of 10 security force personnel and four militants, and injuries to 15 force personnel.
The office of the Commander Pakistan Fleet issued the commissioning orders for the PNS Merhan on 13 September 1975. The base was formally commissioned on 26 September 1975. The base had only eight officers, four sailors and no aircraft to support the Naval Air Arm. The Pakistan Air Force and Army initially assisted the Naval Air Arm to conduct training for air and ground crew. The first Westland Sea King helicopter arrived at the base after commissioning though it was acquired from the UK in September 1974.
The Sea King was the first helicopter to fly from the base. The first squadron of the Naval Air Arm was established in 1976 with three Breguet Atlantique aircraft. These aircraft were soon after complemented by Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopters. The 333 Squadron was formed with six Alouette helicopters purchased from France in 1977. The Fokker F-27 Aircraft acquired in 1982 formed the 27 Squadron.
Naval Aviation Training School (NATS) was established in April 1988. The 222 Squadron was formed with three Lynx helicopters received from the UK in early 1994 and the 28 Squadron was established by three P-3C Orion aircraft bought in 1996.
Since its inception in 1975, PNS Mehran has continuously grown and today it supports the operations of approximately 25 multi-role aircraft of the Pakistan Navy.
PNS Mehran operations
The Naval Air Arm at PNS Mehran is controlled by Commander Naval Aviation (COMNAV). COMNAV consists of four Head of Departments (HODs) including Commander Air (Cdr Air), Commander Air Engineering Department (Cdr AED), Commanding Officer MEHRAN (CO MEH) and Officer Commanding Naval Aviation Training School (OC NATS).
Cdr Air operates six squadrons including P3C 28 ASW/ASV Squadron, Atlantique 29 ASW Squadron, Fokker 27 Maritime ASW Squadron, Sea King 111 ASW/ASV Squadron and Alouette 333 ASW Squadron. It controls the flying activities of the base through the commanding officer of each squadron.
Cdr AED monitors the technical efficiency of the fleet. AED can conduct maintenance, repair and rebuilding on P-3C Orion, Atlantique, Fokker, Sea King and Alouette III aircraft. The logistics and administrative support to the aviation units is provided by CO MEHRAN.
The OC NATS offers aviation related training for air and ground crew of the Naval Air Arm. The school trains surface fleet officers and servicemen to satisfy the requirements of ship borne flight operations. The Base Flight Safety Officer ensures the safe flying practices implemented by the squadrons. The quality standards maintained by the maintenance and technical departments are monitored by the Quality Assurance Officer.
The Pakistan Naval Air Arm fleet stationed at PNS Mehran includes P-3C Orion Long Range Maritime Patrol (LRMP) aircraft, Atlantique LRMPs, F-27 Fokker LRMPs, Sea King helicopters and Alouette helicopters.
PNS Mehran has a single runway to support the operations of P-3C Orion, Atlantique and F-27 Fokker aircraft. The base is also equipped with hangars and maintenance facilities for the aircraft. The Air Engineering Department (AED) performs maintenance, equipment modification and structural repairs of the air facilities. It also conducts inspection, refurbishment and reconstruction of aircraft.