Kargil war: Indian Air Force was minutes away from crossing LoC and bombing Pakistan bases
The Kargil conflict took place between May and July 1999 and is referred as Operation Vijay.
Delhi: In the early hours of June 13, 1999 Indian Air Force fighter pilots were minutes away from launching air attack deep inside Pakistan, as per a media report.
As per NDTV, when Kargil war was as its peak, targets had been assigned and route maps had been finalised for the attack.
Also, personal revolvers to be carried by pilots had been loaded with ammunition.
The report added that Pakistani currency had been collected for use in case pilots had to eject on other side of Line of Control and manage an escape.
As per the report, the plans were laid out in documents of IAF and was supposedly the result of collapsed talks between Jaswant Singh, the then foreign minister, and his Pakistani counterpart, Sartaj Aziz.
The move which would have likely escalated into a full-fledged war between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
The official record of the plans of IAF, accessed by NDTV is as follows: "On the 12th (of June), Sartaj Aziz went back after a failed visit to India. All pilots were called back at 1600 by Gupta, who had news for us. CATOs [Command Air Tasking Orders] had come for a pre-emptive strike at dawn on 13 June" - reads the 'Squadron Diary' of Air Force's 17 Squadron, the 'Golden Arrows', a formation that flew MiG 21s from the Srinagar Air Force base.
"We were to do a 4 ac [aircraft] bombing mission in PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) and BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment) of Chaklala (a major Pakistani Air Force Airbase in Rawalpindi). Tony, Pradeep, Chou & Doc planned for first mission and Dhali, Gupta for the second. Pal was maha miffed at being left out. At 0430 on 13th (June) morning, we reported to the sqn (squadron), ready for war. But it was NO GO - EXORs (Execution Orders) had not been received. We stood on standby till morning, then finally stood down at 1230." - the diary further says.
This would have been IAF's first attacks in Pakistan since the 1971 war.
Further, two MiG 21s were assigned as 'tied escorts' to four MiG-27s from another unit. They were told to target the runway at the Chaklala airbase using runway denial bombs. These bombs create large craters in runways, preventing their use).
MiG-21s would provide cover to MiG-27 ground attack fighters in case of interception by Pakistani fighter jets.
Four other MiG-21s were part of the attack mission. This was in addition to four MiG-29s air superiority fighters.
A total of 16 fighter jets were to be deployed across the LoC for the attack.
They were supposed to sweep the Pakistani skies before the targets was approached.
However, India eventually decided not to escalate the Kargil situation. The reason for it is a secret.
"We took (Pakistani) currency and wrote letters home. Takeoff was at 6:30 am. As youngsters, we were jumping around. The mission was called off at about 12 am. At the squadron, we received our `No Go' orders at 3 am" - as noted by the diary.
The conflict took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LoC).
India launched Operation Vijay to recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LoC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants.
The Indian Army launched its final attacks in the last week of July and the fighting ceased on July 26 as soon as the Drass sub-sector had been cleared of Pakistani forces.
The day has since been marked as Kargil Vijay Diwas (Kargil Victory Day).