At a time when the war broke out in 1971, Farooq Umar was serving as the Flight Commander of the lone Mirage squadron deployed at Sargodha. The sqn was divided into two flights. The flight under Farooq Feroze was deployed at Mianwali to carry out Air defence missions whereas the flight at Sargodha was responsible for carrying out strike and Photo Recce Missions. Farooq Umar participated in numerous demanding Photo Recce and strike missions during the war. His heroics finally earned him the Prestigious Sitar-e-Jurat at the end of the war.

Photo Recee over Pathan Kot

Photo Recee to Discover Indian armour at Muktasar Railway Station 1971

Brief Description of Gallantry

Very little has been written and said about the formidable task performed by Sqn Ldr Farooq Umar while carrying out dare devil Photo Recce missions deep inside enemy territory. during 1971 war. He flew some incredibly effective missions bringing back crucial information on battle damage by PAF strikes and especially about the Indian Armour Concentrations and Communication routes, in the north as well as south on the Rajasthan-Rahimyar Khan axis. His missions in the north were essential for discovering the Indian Armour and its movement. Several times he was hunted and chased by the Indian fighters and ack ack owing to the extremely dangerous and tell-tale profile flown by him. He was even subjected to Ack Ack fire from Kathua bridge defences and 200 , 40 mm ack ack guns deployed around Pathan Kot . He came back with a huge hole from a bird hit and landed back with a damaged air craft but having completed his mission successfully against all odds . He survived these complex missions even though the army’s requirements were never ending.

Farooq flew one of such daring missions in the afternoon of 4 December 1971. As the war started a day earlier, Pathankot airfield located at the junction of Punjab and Kashmir, became the lynch-pin for all crucial land and air operations. It was bombed and pinned down by PAF Mirages during the day and by the B-57 at night. The Pathankot airfield was well guarded by heavy ant aircraft guns. The airfield was camouflaged with nets and camouflage paint making it difficult to spot from distance by an attacking pilot. Undaunted by the formidable defences employed at the airfield, Farooq took up the challenge of flying a photo recce mission. As he aligned his aircraft with the airfield to photograph, heavy ack ack opened up. Fearless Farooq continued the mission and passing through the barrage of shells criss-crossing his aircraft he collected valuable intelligence.Another mission for which he would be remembered in the history was the mission in which he located the advancing Indian armour along with his wing man Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah . On 12 December 1971, his timely photo recce about where the enemy was gathering its armour provided precious intelligence to Pak Army. Flying his Mirage III RP, equipped with high-speed photo recce cameras, Farooq brought back that after noon’s scene at the Mukhtasar railway yard, where the enemy armour was being loaded. In light of this valuable information, the Pak Army developed its own battle plans successfully.

Citations of Gallantry Awards: “Sqn Ldr Farooq Umar was employed on day and night air defence and reconnaissance duties during the Indo-Pak War 1971. He flew reconnaissance missions against heavily defended enemy airfields and forward army positions. He always flew with immense courage and determination. On one of his reconnaissance missions, because of a bird hit his aircraft sustained engine damage but he resolutely continued his mission and successfully completed it against a heavily defended enemy airfield. On an air defence mission, he successfully intercepted an enemy formation of Hunter aircraft and shot down/damaged four of them. The immense courage and determination displayed by him during the war was always a source of inspiration to other pilots of the squadron. He has been awarded SJ.”

Post War 1971:Farooq Umer remained on various command and staff appointments after the war in 1971, and he went on deputation to Libya as head of the PAF fighter element and commanded two Libyan Mirage squadrons there a Mirage-5 and a Mirage-3 sqn for two years. After that on return to Pakistan he commanded various organizations which included being Officer Commanding No 19 squadron Fighter leader school. Deputy Director Plans at AHQ, Director Flight Safety, Sector Commander (South ,Sindh and Balochistan), Directing staff at NDU, Base Commander Lahore, Commandant Staff College Faisal, Base Commander Faisal. Later in 1985 On promotion to two star rank he was selected for the vital appointment of Director General Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra.

Sqn Ldr Farooq Umar and wing commander Hakimullah giving interview to BBC during 1971 war in the jungles of Sargodha because of Camouflage requirements.

Sqn Ldr Farooq Umar is giving interview to BBC during 1971 war in the jungles of Sargodha because of Camouflage requirements. 1st from left Cecil Ch the hero of Lahore in 1965.

Farooq Umar posing in front of Mirage -3 and all armaments i.e 68 mm rockets, bombs and extra fuel tank 1971 at Sargodha.

Farooq Umar posing in front of Mirage -3 and all armaments i.e 68 mm rockets, bombs and extra fuel tank 1971 at Sargodha.

Farooq Umar posing in front of Mirage -3 and all armaments i.e 68 mm rockets , bombs and extra fuel tank 1971 at Sargodha.

Sqn Ldr Farooq Umar was subjected to Ack Ack fire from Kathua bridge defences and 200 , 40 mm ack ack guns deployed around Pathan Kot . He came back with a huge hole from a bird hit and landed back with a damaged air craft but having completed his mission successfully against all odds . He survived these complex missions even though the army’s requirements were never ending.

The first 6 pilots chosen to fly Mirages in France as an Instructor pilots with MM Alam in the center and Farooq Umar on the extreme right. posing in front of F-104 dual seater for instrument flying before proceeding to Paris in France.