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History & Operations of Wars of Pakistan Air Force

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On this day: 56 years ago, the Pakistan Air Force mounted a series of audacious dusk strikes against forward Indian air bases and installations in Punjab (September 6, 1965).

Strategically indecisive, the strikes nonetheless enabled the numerically inferior PAF to seize the initiative and get in the first punch. Pakistan claimed 13 IAF aircraft on the ground (including a few MiG-21s), and another seven in the air, for a loss of two Sabers and their pilots.

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Air Marshal Shabbir Hussain Syed Sitara-e-Jurat officer commanding of the lone 14 Sqn "Tail Choppers", stationed at Tezgaon in September 1965.

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Led the devastating strike mission at Kalaikunda - 8 enemy aircraft were written off on 7ᵗʰ September, mostly Canberras and Vampires.
 

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Foreign military attachés checking out the infamous Gnat flown by Squadron Leader (later Air Marshal) Brijpal Singh Sikand, Aircraft was taken in possession at Pasrur.



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1965 war witnessed the rattling of two air-forces ratioed 1:5 means every single fighter aircraft of Pakistan Air Force was had 5 opponents to fight against. No other option was there other than to defend the homeland from the cowards who opened the war front in the darkness of a night. They aimed to capture Lahore in a day, but they underestimated the sons of soil, the rigid nerves of men in uniforms, ready to embrace death in the defense of the motherland. The intense air battles resulted losses on both sides but the heroics of PAF were remarkable enough to be mentioned in the books of history.

Although the war broke out on 6th September, but PAF was put on red alert by the visionary leadership of Air Marshal Nur Khan. This helped PAF attaining upper hand and virtual control of whole war, it greatly facilitated in preparing the PAF for imminent war. As the war broke, PAF adopted a very offensive strategic plan of crippling IAF on ground through air strikes on their airfields. Meanwhile they also carried extensive ground support by pounding the advancing armored columns of Indian Army. IA opened fronts at Lahore, Kasur & Sialkot with tanks, artillery guns, armored vehicles, and infantry support. On 6 September, the 15th Infantry Division of the Indian Army, under World War II veteran Major General Niranjan Prasad, battled a massive counterattack by Pakistan near the west bank BRB Canal. He made two attempts to cross the canal and enter the Lahore city but was stopped by resilience and resistance of Pakistan Armed Forces. 3rd Jat division of Indian Army was able to cross the BRB and capture the village of Batapur near Jallo-More of Lahore, but the sharp shooters of PAF destroyed their ammunition stores and armored vehicles, which shattered their morale and they had to retreat.

PAF had F-104 starfighters for high altitude flight and to provide cover to the low flying F-86 Sabers. PAF had 125 F-86 Sabre, a dozen or so F-104 Starfighters and around 27 B-57 Canberra Medium Bombers. IAF possessed some 26 fighter squadrons and four medium bomber squadrons. It deployed IAF could deploy only one MiG-21 squadron which had only a handful of aircraft on its strength; five Mystere Ground Attack squadrons, three Hunter Fighter G/A squadrons, three Gnat Mk1 Air Defense squadrons; three Canberra medium bomber squadrons and two reformed and merged Vampire squadrons, which were withdrawn when four Vampires were lost on the first day of operations against Pakistan.

The employment of PAF assets was accomplished in a very innovative and professional manner. Single squadron of PAF F-104s managed to attain and maintain air superiority throughout the conflict. The Star Fighters were employed as top cover for the F-86s representing a threat to the IAF fighter fleet. Resultantly, brilliantly flown PAF Sabers inflicted more losses on the IAF Hunters, Gnats and Mysteres. The employment of the Bomber fleet was also very well panned by the PAF top leadership. Besides the fighters, the bombers also made significant contributions by undertaking regular night bombing operations against several Indian airfields, damaging most of them. PAF leadership also exhibited a classic example of unconventional means of utilizing its C-130 fleet for night bombing. The speed with which the idea was adopted, and the necessary modifications incorporated reflected the PAF’s pilots and engineer’s genius for improvisation

PAF was outnumbered in comparison to the IAF, yet it had superiority in terms of training which pilots were undergoing for 8 years with Americans. PAF’s B57s were also better than the Indian English Electric ones with superior avionics and upgradation package.

Prior to the full front war, Flight Lieutenant Imtiaz Ahmad Bhatti and Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmad Rafiqui gave a bloody nose to IAF Vampires on September 1, when two PAF F-86 Sabre shot four IAF Vampires, when they were attacking army in Chamb area. Post this, no Vampire was seen in the rest of the war.

Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmad Rafiqui was in command of three F-86 aircrafts in the strike against Halwara airfield on September 6. His guns were jammed for some unknown reason, Rafiqui, unarmed as he was, refused to give up and continued instead to provide protection to his co-fighters while ordering his wingman to take over as leader. Although, his aircraft was shot down.

However, he did allow others to hit three more of hunters of IAF, which had intercepted them in their strike. Given his exemplary leadership in each of his exploits, he has been honored with Sitara-i-Jurat and Hilal-i-Jurat. In another heroic attempt, PAF Pilot Muhammad Mehmood Alam shot Five IAF Hawker Hunters in less than 60 seconds, making it a world record yet to be broken. He was awarded with Sitara-e-Jurat

In reaction to the Indian thwart against Lahore on 6th September, PAF responded with preemptive attacks on Indian airfields at Pathankot, Adampur and Halwara. Pathankot was a great success for PAF as around 10 Indian aircrafts were destroyed on ground by PAF pilots. The best day for PAF was to defend Sargodha, the central fort for the Air Force, against the Indian charge and thwart to destroy the center of operations.

PAF defended the fort with a great courage, a small force against a 3-5 times larger enemy in numeric, but it was the training of PAF Pilots, the spirit of Eeman and the patriotism which made them a rigid wall of defense and Indian attempts were neutralized. All in all, the war was ruled by PAF virtually in the skies as India lost around 75 aircrafts (110 claimed by Pakistan) in the cost of mere 20 aircraft losses by Pakistan.
 

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PATHANKOT STRIKE, 1965.


8 F-86Fs of No 19 Squadron led by Squadron Leader Sajjad Haider struck Pathankot airfield. With carefully positioned dives and selecting each individual aircraft in their protected pens for their strafing attacks, the strike elements completed a textbook operation against Pathankot.

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Wing Commander M G Tawab, flying one of the two Sabers as tried escort overhead, counted 14 wrecks burning on the airfield. Among the aircraft destroyed on the ground were nearly all of the IAF's Soviet-supplied Mig-21s till then received, none of which was seen again during the War. Tied escorts consisted of Wing Commander M G Tawab (later Air Marshal and air Chief of Bangladesh Air Force) and Flight Lieutenant Arshsad Sami while the strike elements were led by Squadron Leader Sajjad Haider with Flight Lieutenant M Akbar, Mazhar Abbas, Dilawar Hussain, Ghani Akbar and Flyng Officer Arshad Chaudhary, Khalid Latif and Abbas Khattak (later CAS, PAF) in his formation.
 

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SEP 15, 2021


AIR WAR OF 1965 REVISITED: THE BATTLE AGAINST ODDS (3-5 SEPTEMBER 1965)






BACKGROUND

The air strikes carried out by the IAF against Pakistan Army, gave the PAF the perfect alibi to launch their own air strikes against the Indian Army. On 2nd September, the Pakistan Army having captured Chamb, crossed the narrow width of the Tawi River and established a bridgehead on its eastern bank. However there was no interference from the IAF. Nor did initiation of the PAF's new close support role from the first light on the morning of 2nd September result in any IAF action. So where was the IAF?

The IAF was extremely upset and bitter about losing four aircraft on the very first day of the conflict. In order address the new air situation, and to mitigate the risk posed by the PAF, a high level meeting was convened at the Indian Air Force Head Quarters in New Delhi. The final outcome of the meeting was as follows:

1. Removal of all Vampires and Ouragan from the battlefield. This constituted to 30% of their combat strength;
2. In order to carry out any further army support missions, fighter escort would be compulsory in order to protect the ground attack aircraft.

Around afternoon, two MiG-21PFs from Ambala were dispatched to Pathankot. IAF had only seven MiG-21PFs operational at that point of time. However two MiG-21s could not serve the purpose to carry out air defense of Pathankot adequately. Armed with only a pair of early generation K-13 missiles and no cannons/guns, the MiG could only be used as a deterrent against the threat posed by the F-104 Starfighters.

Meanwhile on the same day (2nd September) at the Chamb-Jaurian Sector, PAF flew close support missions throughout the day. They were supported by CAPs (Combat Air Patrols) by pair of Sabres and single F-104s, which were flown about 10 miles inside Pakistani territory in the Jhelum-Muzaffarabad area at around 25-30,000 ft. 18 F-86 and 6 Starfighter sorties were carried out throughout the day. To meet the anticipated increase in ground attack commitments in the northern sectors, 10 Sabres of No 17 Squadron, led by Squadron Leader Wiqar Azim were detached from Mauripur to Sargodha on the same day. They were followed the next morning by the OC from their sister unit from Mauripur, No. 18 Squadron Leader Alauddin (Butch) Ahmad, plus Squadron Leader S.M. Rabb as Wing Ops Officer, to form a new strike element operating from Sargodha under the command of Wing Commander Masood A. Sikandar. Sargodha was thus to house six full fighter squadrons in addition to one or two smaller units.

Once again this was a tactical blunder being carried out by the PAF planners. PAF was not at war, and the force at Sargodha was adequately equipped to counter the IAF fighter-bombers based at Pathankot. As a keen reader and a student of aviation history, the question which arises is what was the wisdom by the PAF HQ to have two OC Flying at Sargodha? Had Wing Commander Masood A. Sikandar been left at his home base at Mauripur, was it not possible that he would have carried out the attack against Jamnagar (since he was part of the top-secret meeting in June 1965, where the PAF war strategy plan was not only discussed but specific mission details and most important, the mission leaders were decided).

Still to be answered was the effectiveness of the PAF's main force of Sabres against more representative opposition such as the Hunters and Gnats of the IAF. It was obvious; however, that the continued advance of the Pak Armed Forces into Indian-held Kashmir, there would soon be further engagements to establish this point once. Meanwhile at the other side of the border, eight Gnat aircraft had arrived at Pathankot, flown at very low levels so as to avoid radar detection.


THE SNARE

The pre-dawn briefing at Pathankot resulted in a simple, yet bold, tactical plan. The Indians had been studying the CAP pattern adopted by the PAF, throughout the day on 2nd September 1965. It was thus decided to send a four-Mystère aircraft formation at high level (between 30,000 ft. – 40,000 ft.), so that they could be picked up by the PAF radar. They were to be followed by four Gnats in a finger-four formation 1500 yards behind and at only 300 ft. above the ground. Yet another two Gnats, in what can only be described as a tactical formation flying at very low level – barely 100 ft. above ground level – followed 2000 yards behind to give cover to the fighters ahead. The trap was thus laid and set.


BATTLE AGAINST THE ODDS:

Two F-86F Sabres flown by Flight Lieutenant Yusuf Ali Khan (Flight Commander, No. 11 Squadron) with Flying Officer Abdul Khaliq as his wingman were on a routine patrol mission over the area. It was a clear day with unlimited visibility, as the captivating landscape of Chamb was all aglow in the early morning sun. They had been circling over their CAP station at a height of about 25,000 ft. for quite some time when they were warned about four bogeys approaching Akhnur at 36,000 ft. Both the Sabres banked towards Akhnur and started to climb towards the threat as Yusuf asked for intercept instructions. Suddenly Khaliq's voice interrupted on the R/T.

"Leader, four bogies closing in, right, half a mile turning...."

As Yusuf looked down, he saw four glistening fighters identified as Gnats closing in fast. “Jettison Stores” he yelled as he punched a button and felt a mild jerk as the drop tanks left his Sabre and went down hurling in the empty space below. Although the Gnats were vectored in the general direction of the Sabres, they were still unable to visually acquire the Sabres.

Meanwhile Yusuf banked sharply and dove down from 30,000 ft. in a spiraling turn, settling behind and below the Indian Gnat Formation. Khaliq, in the meantime, looked inside his cockpit to change his tanks from external to internal, while his leader was in pursuit of the Gnat in front of him. During this process, he lost sight of his leader. Since time was of essence, and Khaliq was an easy target for the swarm of enemy fighters, Yusuf, instructed him to return to base and decided to take on against the enemy aircraft which were still flying in his frontal quarters. He adjusted behind the blind zone of the rearmost Gnat which was still unaware of his presence. Within moments he got the missile firing tone growling in his headset. He was about to press the missile firing button when his Sabre shuddered, as he heard thuds of landing bullets in it. Instinctively he looked back and saw two more enemy Gnats, about 1500 ft. behind, with the leader’s gun blazing away at him.

The second formation of Gnats, who were trailing the front Gnat section, had been able to sandwich Yusuf’s Sabre while he was busy with his quarry. The Indian pilot, (later identified as Squadron Leader Trevor Keelor) opened up with the Gnat’s 30mm cannon causing extensive damage to the Sabre, as he witnessed disintegrating pieces of metal along with a large piece of elevator (mistaken for a piece of wing). Being super excited upon hitting a PAF Sabre, Keelor announced on the RT that the Sabre has been blown up on his face (That later proved to be incorrect as the Indian Historians who have covered the Indo-Pak Air War of 1965, have confirmed that Flight Lieutenant Yusuf Ali Khan had shot down an IAF Gnat on 13th September, thus blunting the brag by Squadron Leader Keelor, an attitude absent in all PAF History Versions).

Meanwhile the four Gnats in front of Yusuf’s Sabre, broke left, obviously having been warned by the rear pair just in time. Flabbergasted upon the latest threat, Yusuf yanked back on his stick and broke hard into the inbound threat. The turn was so violent that he felt the high G-Forces slamming him back into his seat. As soon as both the Gnats overshot him he reversed his turn, placed his nose down and kept turning behind the nearest aircraft ahead of him.

The first ever classical dog-fight of the 1965 war, had continued for some time as the spiraling circus of death which started at 27,000 ft. had descended below 10,000 ft., moving fast towards the ground. Suddenly an F-104 Starfighter appeared on the scene. Flying Officer Abbas Mirza was shocked when he saw Yusuf descending in a tight spiral followed by six nimble enemy Gnats circling behind each other. Firing occasional bursts the enemy aircraft tried all tricks of the trade to corner the crippled aircraft, but Yusuf, a hardened fighter, eluded them. Instinctively he dove down in the melee. Its mere presence on the scene instilled fear in the hearts of the Gnat pilots, which can be reflected in the radio transmission of one of the senior Indian pilot, Squadron Leader Brij Pal Singh Sikand, who shouted out ‘Pajh oye … 104 eeee,’ (the English translation, “Run … it’s a 104”).

The F-104 however didn’t engage the Gnats in a dogfight. Flying at a high speed, Flying Officer Abbas Mirza dove in the dogfight a couple of times before he witnessed the Gnats disengaging. Sikand, who had initiated the panic call, broke off too, but in an opposite direction, thus losing contact with his wingman as well as the rest of the formation.

Undaunted till the end, Yusuf attempted to follow the fleeting Gnats but found that he was unable to reach more than 350 knots, and that at anything more than 92% engine rpm vibrations became excessive. All he had to do was to nurse his crippled aircraft more than 100 miles back to Sargodha, with marginal fuel and having lost his IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) equipment. With no Gnats in sight, he set course back to Sargodha, albeit at a slower speed. Once on course home word, Yusuf started checking his instruments one by one. The hydraulic pressure was showing zero. He pumped his brakes to test their effectiveness but it was useless. He looked in his rear-view mirror and saw that the elevator was completely shattered. Until then Yusuf had not bothered to establish contact with the ground station. Now he tried but there was no response. His radio was gone.

As he arrived overhead Sargodha base, he made a low pass over the airfield waggling wings to indicate a precautionary landing. He approached the runway cautiously and the aircraft touched the black asphalt stretch with a thud. He heaved a sigh of relief as the Sabre rolled steadily and came to stop at the barrier. It was a miracle. The ground crew who inspected the machine was amazed. The experts, who came to see, looked, scratched their heads and went back. None could think of any reason why this aircraft had remained airborne.

Most of the upper parts of the fin and rudder were damaged, as was the left elevator. Another shell had entered the fuselage behind the air brakes and passed completely through leaving an 8 “ diameter hole just aft of engine turbine rotor. One of the most extraordinary hits in his Sabre was the passage of a 30mm shell right up the tailpipe of one of his Sidewinder missiles, passing through the rocket motor and finally exploding about half way along the 9 ft 2 inch length of the missile. The front portion of the missile, containing the warhead and sensitive infrared homing equipment was blown off (and recovered later), but the explosion of the 30 mm shell placed several thousand splinters through the wing, and accounted for the failure of the undercarriage hydraulic system.

THE STARFIGHTER EFFECT:

When the Gnats were disengaging after a Starfighter dented their chance of bagging any kills, another Starfighter flown by Flight Lieutenant Hakimullah was scrambled and had been vectored on the scene. However it arrived too late. Hakimullah had been flying supersonic for the interception and he had asked Sakesar to let him know when he was within five miles of the combat area, in order to have sufficient time to decelerate. It was just about then he crossed Sikand’s Gnat, who cursed his luck, as he thought that he had escaped one F-104 only to be confronted by another. As the Gnat was then flying at about 6000 ft. over the disused PAF airfield of Pasrur, not far from the Indian Border, south of Sialkot, Sikand promptly lowered his undercarriage in surrender and landed his aircraft with the assistance of its tail chute.

Although Hakimullah never saw the Gnat in the air, he was asked by Sakesar to orbit overhead Pasrur. It was this instance when he finally saw the Gnat already landed on the disused airstrip. He continued to circle overhead for some 20 minutes until the Gnat and its pilot were captured by the Pakistani troops. Air Commodore Syed Saad Hatmi, has covered the aftermath of this incident in his article ‘I Flew the Indian Air Force Gnat’. He states: “I met Sikand when he was brought to the airfield. He was a smart Sikh pilot but with¬out the usual long tresses. During our friendly chat he confessed that he was unsure of his position but the presence of an F-104 overhead had helped him into a quick decision to land at Pasrur. For a pilot, who hand¬ed over a perfectly serviceable air¬craft to the enemy, he was too cocky. He thought it was a big joke when I told him that I was going to fly the Gnat to our base. According to him the Gnat was complex and difficult to start let alone to fly.”

However the then Flight Lieutenant Syed Saad Hatmi, not only got the aircraft started, but also flew it back to Sargodha in the wee hours of 6th September 1965. The Gnat remains with Pakistan, as one of its most prized war trophies.

AFTERMATH:

Despite its severe damage this Sabre was repaired and returned to operational service by the indefatigable industry of the PAF engineers at Sargodha, led by Squadron Leader M. Wahidullah, in charge of the Repair and Salvage Unit, and Squadron Leader I.A. Kazi, commanding the Aircraft Engineering Squadron.

After the debriefing, Flight Lieutenant Yusuf Ali Khan was awarded with Sitara-i-Jur’at for fighting single handedly against six Gnats and piloting back a badly damaged aircraft. However, everyone on the base was amused when they heard on All India Radio that some Squadron Leader Keelor has been awarded with Vir Chakra for shooting down Yusuf's Sabre.

Coming towards the critical review of this air battle, the Indian Air Force did a good job in snaring two PAF Sabres. Although they managed to hit Flight Lieutenant Yusuf Ali Khan’s Sabre, they wrongly claimed it as destroyed. Keelor bragged about his kill in his debriefing (like most IAF pilots did remorselessly about their incredible claims on 7th September in their failed daylight strikes against Sargodha and Rahwali). IAF also, was quite in a hurry to give Vir Chakras to their pilots before a careful investigation. This trend led to outrageous claims by some IAF pilots in the later course of the conflict which questioned the veracity of their kills (The enormous number of gallantry awards by IAF was 5 times the number of PAF aircraft shot and just one aircraft destroyed on the ground, shows the lack of substantiation of claims, a problem that PAF also suffered but to lesser extent).

The fact was that with six aircraft in the air, they could not locate and shoot down Flying Officer Abdul Khaliq, who had disengaged right under their nose. Neither could they shoot down a crippled Sabre, who eluded them for quite some time. With one Gnat finally ending up landing at a Pakistani disused airstrip, the result of this dogfight ended up in PAF’s favor.

On the PAF’s part, I will give full marks to Flight Lieutenant Yusuf Ali Khan who kept his cool despite fighting against such heavy odds. He rightfully ordered his wingman to disengage as he could have been a liability in this dogfight. Similarly, he took on single handedly against such a large number of enemy air superiority fighters, and held against them for about ten minutes, which in itself is a big feat, and projected his positive mindset. It would be fair to say that this dogfight was the most spectacular and classic dogfight of the war, which has not been given its due projection in our defense day celebrations, for the present generation to emulate indomitable professionalism and courage.

Coming towards the operational deployment of the F-104, the Starfighter could have been utilized in a much better way. While going through the History of the PAF (1988), it has been mentioned that the Starfighters were used to disperse the enemy. It raised a question in a raw mind like mine, that why the Starfighters were used to disperse the enemy rather than shooting them down? Armed with two AIM-9B Sidewinder missiles and the venerable M-61 Vulcan Cannon, the Starfighter could have easily downed more enemy fighters, on the run. The air arrest of the enemy Gnat was the result of low morale of the enemy pilot, and could not be attributed to the tactics of our F-104 pilots.

On the evening of 3rd September 1965, in a high level meeting at Sargodha, it was decided that four F-86 Sabres would fly at 30,000 – 35,000 ft. in order to lure the enemy Gnats. Once the enemy is committed to the battle, two F-104 Starfighters trailing the Sabres at low level will zoom climb in the dogfight and will pulverize the enemy fighters. Apparently, the IAF got wise with time and didn’t felt for this trap whenever it was flown. However they did engage the PAF aircraft and came very close in writing a Golden Chapter in their history.


ACTION OVER AKHNUR:

On 4th September 1965, PAF flew 34 air defense missions, while more ground attack missions were flown against Indian army targets in the vicinity of Jaurian and Akhnur. However in a 12-ship strike mission, during the afternoon incurred the first loss to be suffered by the PAF during the period of hostilities. The first two sections of four Sabres each delivered their ordinance and left the area. As the last section of four Sabres led by Squadron Leader Muniruddin Ahmed was busy attacking the Indian army positions, they were bounced by four IAF Gnats, which sneaked upon them from low level.

The Indian Gnat pilots claimed that all four Gnats had settled behind the PAF Sabres undetected and were all set to shoot them down, but three of the pursuing Gnats suffered gun stoppage after firing a couple of rounds. It was the Gnat piloted by Flight Lieutenant Pathania who gave chase and fired three gun bursts at his target. The Sabre started emitting smoke. Flying Officer M.N. Butt ejected and was rescued by the Pakistani search and rescue team. The Indians had their first confirmed kill after all. The huge number of missions, aimlessly wandering needed a reflective thought, since conservation of force, and concentration of it to strike at the right time and place, is said to be a basic principal of air operations.

The Sabre pilots involved however did not recall about encountering Gnats in that mission. While Flying Officer Butt admitted to have gone down after being hit by ‘ground fire’, it clearly stated that Sabres had kept a poor lookout for enemy aircraft during their attack, and paid the price accordingly.

About the same time Pathania was shooting down the Sabre, the two MiG-21s from Pathankot were on an offensive CAP over the same area. One of the MiG-21PF then gave chase to the Sabre, flown by Squadron Leader Muniruddin Ahmed, who was exiting at low level.

The MiG-21 fired two K-13 missiles at the Sabre, but both missiles failed to connect. Lacking cannons, the MiG-21 pilot almost resisted his temptation of brushing against the tail fin of the Sabre as he disengaged. It got so close to Munir that he could pick out its big wing fences and belly detail as it turned away. He called up on the radio about the MiG, and stammered convulsively, "B-B-B-B-By G-G-G-G-God, he nearly hit me." This was the only recorded action by the IAF MiG-21s during the 1965 aerial campaign. In the next round, both the MiGs were on the receiving end, when they were destroyed on the ground by the attacking PAF Sabres.

SILENCE BEFORE THE STORM:

With the capture of Jaurian by Pakistan Armed Forces on the morning of 5th September, Akhnur was just a few miles away from the Pakistan Army. The Pakistan Army had a clear qualitative edge in equipment as well as motive and morale. The Indian Army had been unable to blunt the Pakistani thrust, and suffered very heavy losses in the process. The fall of Jaurian was accompanied by the loss of a complete field regiment of artillery to the Pakistan Army - which was later to put the captured Indian guns to good use - as well as a large number of prisoners, undamaged AMX-13 tanks and scores of vehicles.

Meanwhile PAF Sabres from Sargodha continued to provide air support to the army despite heavy AA opposition near Akhnur. No losses were incurred by the PAF, although one Sabre was slightly damaged by Indian flak. However a worrying factor was that IAF ceased all their operations in the battle zone, and their absence was to be taken seriously. However they kept on probing PAF air defenses to check their reaction times throughout the day.

In the course of an attempted interception of an enemy aircraft tracked by radar over Lahore, an F-104 Starfighter delivered a resounding supersonic double bang over the Amritsar area. All India Radio announced that F-86F Sabre Jets of the Pakistan Air Force had rocketed Amritsar city. For quite some time there was confusion amongst the ranks of the Indian Armed Forces. Even the Indian Defense Minister stated that PAF fighter jets had attempted to raid the Amritsar Radar but were beaten back by the AAA. Little did he know that Amritsar would be on PAF's hit list, once the balloon went up.
 

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DGPR (AIR FORCE)

@DGPR_PAF


As No 35 Wing was getting ready for the final assault, 6th Lancer of Pak Army, engaged with enemy in Chawinda sector, called up for an immediate Close Air Support. On receiving this SOS message, PAF leadership decided to launch first ever live-bombing from Hercules on 16 Sep 1965

The formidable Hercules, with full load of 28000 lbs, took off from Peshawar & reached battle areas with pinpoint accuracy. At planned TOT, free falling bombs from Hercules started to roll down to create torrential rain of TNT over enemy armor, achieving its complete destruction

Another Hercules bombing mission followed, on same day in the evening, to target enemy’s retreating Engineering Brigade close to Deg Nullah in Chawinda area. This time again the enemy trucks, troops and bridging equipment was reduced to debris.



On 19th September C-130 struck & silenced enemy guns located at Manarwa area, creating panic and impairment in enemy files. C-130 Hercules continued to inflict agonizing loss and panic to enemy till 22 September 1965.


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On Sep 3, 1965 IAF Gnat (seen in left along with F-86 Sabre) flown by Sqn Ldr Brijpal Singh Sikand surrenders to PAF’s No.9 F-104 Starfighter during an air combat.

The Indian pilot landed aircraft on pasrur airfield near Gujranwala and was taken Prison Of war (POW). Later Sqn Ldr Saad Hatmi flew that captured Gnat from Pusrur to Sargodha, which is now placed in PAF museum in Karachi.


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