Rocket-Missile Man of Pakistan

Air Commodore Józef Marian Turowicz

Turowicz was a prominent and noted Polish Pakistani military scientist and an aeronautical engineer. He is considered as one of the chief architects of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan’s space program. Turowicz, an eminent rocket scientist and an aeronautical engineer, was the leading and central figure in Pakistan’s drive to develop high-tech rocket and missile technology of its own. He is considered one of the pioneers of Pakistan’s space program, playing a central role in Pakistan’s aviation and aerospace industry.

He was one of thirty Polish pilots in total who came and went after serving a contractual period in the PAF, usually of one year, starting in 1948 or so when it was still the RPAF. Some spent a longer time of contract. None of the Poles became naturalized Pakistani citizens. None of them ever took part in any combat. The only exception was Turowicz. Both he and his wife very early on adopted Pakistani nationality.

Turowicz made significant contributions to Pakistan’s missile/rocket program as a chief aeronautical engineer and has recently been referred to as the “Rocket-Missile Man of Pakistan” by some of the prominent defense analysts for his work towards the development of ballistic missile and space rocket technology. In Pakistan, he is highly respected as a scientist and noted aeronautical engineer.

Zofia, his wife, taught Mathematics at both the Karachi Grammar School (in fact, Mrs Norma Fernandes, later headmistress KGS, was one of her students) and the American school and also trained gliding to Air Cadets in Karachi and Rawalpindi.

As a qualified fighter pilot and a qualified engineer he did introduce several engineering and operational innovations that surprised the enemy during 1965 war as well as the original manufacturers of the aircraft and avionics for which he was awarded a medal.

He was seconded to SUPARCO as its chief whilst still in PAF. He continued as SUPARCO’s chief after his retirement from PAF.

He was instrumental in launching first Pakistani Satellite and achieving breakthroughs in Pakistan’s rocket and missile programs. Turowicz was the administrator of Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) from 1967 to 1970, and towards the end of his career, he was appointed to the post of Air Vice Marshal of the Pakistan Air Force.

Turowicz died in Karachi aged 72 in 1980.