Group Captain Saiful Azam (born 1941) is a retired air force officer who served as a fighter pilot with the Pakistan Air Force in the years before 1971. In 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation war he was imprisoned by Pakistan authority, after the independence of Bangladesh he returned to his homeland and joined Bangladesh Air Force. His death was on the 14th of June 2020.
Personal life and educationEdit
Azam was born in Khagarbaria Village, Faridpur Upazila, Pabna District, Bangladesh (previously known as East Pakistan) in 1941. After several years in Calcutta, he relocated in 1947 with his family to East Pakistan), after the British left the Indian subcontinent. Azam relocated to Pakistan in 1956, before joining the Pakistan Air Force in 1958, successfully becoming a pilot in 1960.
After training with the Cessna T-37 aircraft and further education at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona with F-86 Sabres, in 1963, Azam was posted briefly in Bangladesh before becoming an instructor with the T-33's at number 2 Squadron (Jet conversion unit) in Mauripur. While still posted as an instructor, Azam flew in the September 1965 war with India as part of the No. 17 squadron from Pakistan Air force base at Sargodha, flying F-86's. After returning from a successful ground attack, Azam's group encountered Indian Folland Gnat interceptors; Azam shot down Flight Officer Mayadev of the Indian Air force. Azam was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat, Pakistan's third highest military award. In 1966, he assumed the command of No. 2 squadron.
In November 1966 he was sent as an adviser to the Royal Jordanian Air Force. He was one of the two Pakistani Air Force officers deputized, along with Flight Lieutenant M. Sarwar Shad. When the Six-Day War broke out in 1967 he flew a Hawker Hunter of the No. 1 squadron for the Royal Jordanian Air Force. Over a two-day period, Azam was involved in attacks at two different bases, for which he received Jordan's Order of Istiqlal and Iraq's medal of bravery, the Nut al-Shujat. On June 5, 1967, he was called to defend Jordan's main base at Mafraq from the Israeli Air Force's Dassault Super Mystère aircraft. One of four Hunters flown by Pakistanis, Azam shot down an Israeli fighter and damaged another. On June 6, 1967, he was transferred to the Iraqi Air Force and was in western Iraq when four Israeli Vatour bombers escorted by two Mirage fighters attacked the airbase. One Mirage pilot, Captain Gideon Dror, shot down two Iraqi fighters including Azam's wingman, but was in turn shot down by Azam. Azam also shot down a Vatour bomber flown by Captain Golan. Both of them were taken as prisoners of war.
In 1969, he returned in service to Pakistan and spent several years as flight commander in various locations before the Independence of Bangladesh in 1971. Azam entered service to Bangladesh Air Force after the war, serving as Director of Flight Safety and Director of Operations before he was given command of the Dhaka Air Base and promoted to Group Captain in 1977. Azam retired from the Bangladesh Air Force in 1980, but continued public service in other capacities. He served in the following appointments accordingly:
- Chairman, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), twice,
- Managing Director, Film Development Corporation (FDC),
- Member of fifth Jatiya Sangshad (1991–95) from Pabna-3 constituency (Chatmohar Upazila, Faridpur Upazila and Bhangura Upazila) from Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)
Saiful Azam remains the only fighter pilot who has flown for three air forces (Jordan, Iraq and Pakistan) at war, along with the unique distinction of having kills against two different air forces (India and Israel). As of 2012, according to the Pakistan government, he holds the record for shooting down more Israeli aircraft than any other pilot. They also indicate that the United States Air Force honored Azam in 2000  and that Azam is "One of the twenty two 'Living Eagles' of the world".
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