Friday, September 17, 2010

AIR WAR OF 1965 REVISITED - C-130 Bombing Operations

C-130 Heavy Bomber

On the night of 11/12 September, the first bombing mission was undertaken by Wing Commander Zahid Butt against the target of Kathua Bridge 16 Kms East of Pathankot. This bridge formed a vital link for the supply line to Indian ground troops. Gauging the dangerous nature of the mission, Chaklala's Station Commander Group Captain Eric Hall also went along on the mission. Flight Lieutenant Rizwan was the navigator. They reached the target safely and during the bombing run, they were attacked by an enemy fighter. Wing Commander Zahid Butt took evasive action only after the bombs had been released. On successful return to the base, they discovered a 1 cm bullet hole in the port wing tip.
After the Kathua bombing raid, the next target for the C-130 bombers was a concentration of enemy tanks and guns, three miles north of Ramgarh in the Sialkot Sector. Two C-130s dropped nine tons of bombs each on the night of 15 September and played a major role in shattering the enemy forces moving up for the battle of Chawinda. On the following night, a single C-130 strike was repeated against Ramgarh destroying enemy tanks and guns as well as ammunition and fuel dumps. 
On the night of 19th September, two successful C-130s sorties were made against Indian Army concentrations in the vicinity of Rurki and Pagowal, and apart from the resulting material damage, the effect on enemy morale was believed to be devastated. 
In the closing stages of the 1965 War, the Indians had amassed their heavy guns close to the BRB canal to concentrate their heavy artillery fire on Lahore. On 21st September a single C-130 dropped ten tons of bombs on the heavy artillery four miles south-east of Jallo. Another C-130 dropped nine tons of bombs on Indian artillery concentration at Valtoha. On 22nd September bad weather hampered PAF strike action against the assembled Indian artillery but the inclement weather did not deter three C-130s taking off that night to find the enemy target and drop their bombs by radar. The target at Atari included an Indian AA Regiment with 72 guns, located in a strip about one mile long running parallel with and close to the BRB canal. The Army was reluctant in giving clearance to the C-130s for fear of breaching the BRB or worse still, the bombs landing on our own troops this side of the canal. Permission was finally granted and the C-130s conducted a highly accurate drop of more than 30 tons of TNT which devastated the Indian artillery. Many independent observers believe this last action by PAF set the Indians clamouring for a ceasefire. Seven officers of the Transport Wing were awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat and 2 JCOSs the Tamgha-e-Jurat.

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