1965: Air Wars History Revisited

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 Air Battles of 1965 Indo-Pak War

1965 Indo-Pak war is full of narrations, tales of glories and victories, losses and destruction, bravery and martyrdom. There are many unsung heroes and many untold tales of the air warfare that thundered the skies during 1965 Indo-Pak war, but this piece primarily will focus on the main air raids and strikes by PAF on Indian airfields.

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The operation “Grand Slam” commenced on 1st September 1965 which aimed to destroy the enemy in the area Chamb, Sukrana and Dewa, and after capturing Akhnur, the aim was to target the enemy in Rajauri. PAF supported Pakistan army in Akhnur sector where the opposition to the ground forces was tough and relatively stiff. Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Rafique and Flight Lieutenant Imtiaz Bhatti shoot down four vampires of IAF on Sep 1st 1965, which provided an immediate support to army. Indian initiated the attack and failed to achieve its objectives in the battle of Lahore and Sialkot. If one goes for true accounts of the facts about the war losses sustained by either side, one will get to know that both suffered losses, but they were huge at Indian side, especially tanks and planes were destroyed far greater in number.

Fighter jets of Pakistan Air Force attacked three main airfield of IAF including Pathankot, Adampur and Halwara. The most successful of the three was the Pathankot attack under the lead of Squadron Leader Haider.

Pathankot Attack

Of the Adampur and Halwara airstrikes, Pathankot airstrike was the most successful one. It was an undisputed success of the PAF Shaheens without any loss. From Peshawar, the 8 Sabres of the 19 Squadron under the lead of Squadron Leader Haider (nick named as “Nosey”) were able to destroy the Pathankot airfield. More than 10 planes of IAF were destroyed including several Mysteres and damage to the air traffic control building. (pic 0, 1)

Adampur Attack

This was still not enough to satiate the appetite of the PAF hawks. The Adampur attack under the lead of Squadron Leader MMAlam claimed two enemy hunters and three were damaged. Sqn Ldr Ahmed and Fl Lt Hatmi who had accompanied Alam, claimed a Hunter each without any loss.

Halwara Raid

The most unfortunate was the Halwara attack, in which two out of our three pilots embraced martyrdom in the mission. This charge was under the lead of Squadron Leader Sarfraz Rafique. During the raid, his guns got jammed and he was not able to fire back to the enemy planes, thus was not able to return back. Else, the plane of Flight Lieutenant Yunus also got trapped and got fire. Only Flight Lieutenant Cecil Choudhry was able to land safely in the homeland among the brave trio who aimed at destroying the Halwara airfield.
For his bold leadership Rafique was awarded Hilal-i-Ju’rat, while Younus and Cecil were given the Sitara-i-Jur’at for their selfless services to the nation.

Before commencing the mission, when Rafiqui was waiting at the flight lines as the aircraft were being readied for the mission he accurately guessed that “It is a one way trip, I am sure about that”. Rest in peace our martyrs and heroes. ( pic 2, 3, 4)

Kalaikunda Airstrike

The Kalaikunda Airstrike was no doubt a victory, a triumph of PAF in the east. East Pakistan had only one and the sole 14 squadron at Dhaka. From Dhaka airbase, five jets targeted the Kalikunda airfield in India which was led by Squadron Commander, Squadron Leader Shabbir Hussain. This daring and courageous formation destroyed around 10 enemy aircrafts and several other installations and planes. Majority of the Indian jets that fulfilled the craving of Pakistani jets were Canberra and Hunters. This sole attack from East Pakistan proved lethal for IAF, as they never imagined this could happen. A second raid was ordered to completely destroy the Kalaikunda airfield. This time Flight Lieutenant Haleem led a formation of four Sabres. Squadron Leader Shabbir Hussain Syed was decorated with Sitara-e-Jurat for his outstanding leadership. No 14 Squadron earned the nickname of Tail Choppers. During the second raid PAF lost one pilot and one plane. (Pic 5, 6)

Battle of Sargodha

The aerial battle of Sargodha on 7th September, 1965 was no doubt one of greatest day in the history of Pakistan Air Force. Three raids were conducted by IAF on Sargodha air base and the second one was one of the deadliest for the Indian jets. M.M Alam shot down five IAF hunters in less than a minute and made a world record. His performance is still one of the most immaculate in the history of air battles. The Pakistani Squadron Commander established a combat record which has few equal in the history of jet air warfare. After 7 September, PAF was in control over the aerial battle field, and IAF dared not engage further in the combat with our daring eagles. Finer the discipline on ground, superb up in the air (Shah), this 21st century quote holds good for all times to come. (pic 7, 8)

Tales of bravery and unflinching commitment were written during the 1965 air battles. The faith and dedication of our fighter pilots proved that till the time they are in the airs, no one can harm Pakistan. This narration has missed many names of daring eagles of PAF, many missions, many thrilling dog fights and many heroes, but it’s just a tribute to the Pakistan Air Force, to the brave, dedicated officers and airmen who day and night are safeguarding the sacred borders of this land at the cost of their own lives.

Long live the Heroes, Martyrs and Ghazis!

Pakistan Zindabad!

Pakistan Armed Forces Paindabad!

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is researcher and a regular contributor at PKKH. She is a Human Rights, Youth and a Peace Activist and has done her MPhil in ‘Peace and Conflict Studies’ from NDU. She can be reached at ms.fortress@gmail.com and she tweets at @battlehawk_

Discussion2 Comments

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      How did Pakistan loose it was an ill equipped under manned fledgling army that hearted a well armed army 5 times its size.

      I believe it was India that ran to UN wanting a seize fire.

      To this day American airforce uses 1965 PAF strategies as a training example.

      PAF went down in history as a decisive airforce undermanned ill equipped bit came on top and changed the course of the war.

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