Friday, September 17, 2010

AIR WAR OF 1965 REVISITED - Post War Reconaissance

Post War Reconaissance

During one of the last post war reconnaissance mission by the RB-57F piloted by Sqn Ldr Rashid Mir and Navigator Flg Off Sultan Malik, the aircraft penetrated deep into the IAF Agra area, while another RB-57 was also following its progress from many miles away inside Pakistan Airspace.

The IAF was on the red alert to engage and intercept the high flying PAF aircraft and was tracking its route and direction through high powered 3 dimensional P-35 radar network with early warning & GCI facilities as the aircraft headed for its target.

Just as Sqn Ldr Rashid & Flg Off Sultan came over Agra, the enemy Air Force tried to engage the RB-57F flying at about 67,000ft by firing SAM-2, but the missile exploded on the launching pad and caused many casualties there. Nevertheless, daredevil Rashid and Sultan pressed for the mission over the enemy air bases.

Later on when the RB-57F was over the Pathankot-Amritsar area, the IAF launched its supersonic MIG-21s but the enemy pilots could not chase owing to superior tactics applied by the mission oriented RB-57 beyond enemy interceptor aircrafts' range. This was another futile attempt by the enemy air force. 

In the final phase of its reconnaissance mission over enemy territory, the RB-57 headed towards Ambala again. The IAF finally cleared the area from its interceptor aircraft, MIG-21 and well prepared for launching more SA-2s to shoot down the RB-57. As soon the aircraft over flew its targeted area, many SA-2s tried to engage it. The aircraft was hit and badly damaged, when its lost some height over Ambala during turning towards its Peshawar air base. The fragments of exploding SAMs around the aircraft caused major structural damage and almost knocked out the vertical stabilizer and one of its auxiliary turbojets.

But, Squadron Leader Rashid and Flying Officer Sultan daringly and skillfully handled the situation making it possible to fly the damaged aircraft during the intense hostile missile and interception activities by the IAF.

As the RB-57 returned from the mission, the enemy air force again scrambled its MIG-21s to catch the aircraft as it lost height but when it re entered Pakistan the hostile chase was given up by the IAF interceptors due to the presence of orbiting flight F-104s to receive them in the mid stream of the mission.

The damaged aircraft landed back safely by its gallant pilot Squadron Leader Rashid Mir and Navigator Flying Officer Sultan Malik at Peshawar air base, which completed their mission in flying colours. The aircraft was repaired and put back to service before it was returned to the United States.

1 comment:

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