Kargil war: When an IAF Jaguar had Sharif, Musharraf in its crosshairs

In a report titled ‘War no solution to problems, says Nawaz’, the Pakistani newspaper The News, said in its edition of June 25, 1999: “Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday reiterated his call for dialogue with India for defusing a war-like situation along the Line of Control (LoC).

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Updated: July 25, 2017 8:01 am
Pervez Musharraf , Musharraf, Nawaz sharif, Pakistan, Pakistan prime minister, Pak PM Nawaz sharif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan government, world news At that precise time, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Army chief General Pervez Musharraf were present at the base, shows an official document accessed by The Indian Express.

Around 8.45 am on Thursday, June 24, 1999, at the height of the Kargil War, an Indian Air Force Jaguar flying close to the Line of Control “lased over” — that is, acquired for bombing using its laser-guided system — a forward base of the Pakistan army. Ultimately, however, the pilot of a second Jaguar that was following close behind — who was supposed to fire the bomb — targeted it “outside the laser basket”; that is, he did not fire it at the military base.

At that precise time, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Army chief General Pervez Musharraf were present at the base, shows an official document accessed by The Indian Express. The events of what might have been a day of catastrophic disaster have not been made public before.

“On 24 June 1999, Jaguar CLDS [Cockpit Laser Designation System] engaged Point 4388. The pilot had lased over Gulteri across LoC but the bomb did not reach the target as it was released outside the laser basket,” says the document of the Government of India. It then notes, in bold type, that “Later, it was ascertained that the PM of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif, was present at Gulteri when the target was attacked.”

When the first Jaguar targeted Gulteri base, it was not aware that Sharif and Musharraf were present at the target. An Air Commodore, who was airborne at the same time, however, advised the pilot to not fire the bomb. The bomb was then dropped on the Indian side of the LoC.

Gulteri, also called Gultari, a forward administrative base of the Pakistan Army, was at the forefront of providing logistics support to Pakistani soldiers during the Kargil War. It is approximately nine kilometres inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) from the LoC, opposite India’’ Dras sector.

On that day, Sharif, accompanied by Musharraf, was on his first visit to forward areas along the LoC in Shakma sector. In a report titled ‘War no solution to problems, says Nawaz’, the Pakistani newspaper The News, said in its edition of June 25, 1999: “Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday reiterated his call for dialogue with India for defusing a war-like situation along the Line of Control (LoC). “I invite the government of India to adopt the way of reconciliation,” so that all disputes including Kashmir could be solved through peaceful means, he said while addressing the troops at the height of 11,600 feet here. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Army Chief Gen Pervez Musharraf, Defence Secretary Lt Gen (Retd) Iftikhar Ali, Hummayun Akhtar, the Chairman Board of Investment, were also present on the occasion.”

Air Marshal Vinod Patney (retd), who was then the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the IAF’s Western Air Command, and directly responsible for the air operations in the Kargil War, told The Indian Express about the incident of June 24, 1999: “It was a target in Mushkoh Valley, where a logistics dump was seen by the Jaguar aircraft. The first Jaguar lased against the target and the second Jaguar was to fire a laser-guided bomb. When the captain of the lasing aircraft suddenly had a doubt and told him not to fire, he came back and found from the video that it was Gulteri.”

‘Lasing the target’ happens when the laser guidance system locks on to the target, puts the crosshairs on it, and continues to keep it in the crosshairs, which is visible to the pilot on a screen in the cockpit. As the CLDS system was then fitted on trainer Jaguar aircraft which could not carry weapons, the bombing had to be done by a second Jaguar aircraft. Following at a distance of about three kilometres, the second Jaguar would pick up the laser beam from the target using the LRMTS (laser range-finder and marked-target seeker), and deliver the bomb with pinpoint accuracy.

Air Marshal Patney clarified that “I was neither informed nor aware” about Sharif’s presence at Gulteri. In any case, “hitting Gulteri was against the rules”, said the Air Marshal, who is now director general of the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) in New Delhi.

The government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had chosen to restrict operations to India’s side of the LoC, and denied the IAF permission to cross the Line while executing missions. Air Marshal Patney’s Air-1 (a senior staff officer) in HQ Western Air Command then, Air Marshal A K Singh (retd), a Jaguar pilot, was airborne in that area during the same time, and was in communication with the pilot of the leading aircraft when this incident occurred. Air Marshal Singh, who was an Air Commodore during the Kargil War, retired as AOC-in-C of the Western Air Command a decade ago, and now leads a retired life in Delhi.

“The time was around 8.45 am. I was also airborne that day in the same area in a Jaguar aircraft, which I had flown from Adampur air base. The flight commander of the leading Jaguar was a Squadron Leader who was my youngster when I had commanded the squadron,” Air Marshal Singh told The Indian Express.

According to Air Marshal Singh, “The flight commander excitedly called me on the radio and said, ‘I have the target in sight. It is a big military camp with a large number of people. I have it on the CLDS.’ I told him not to fire and to tell me whether he was on this side of the river or the other side.”

The flight commander of the first aircraft had lased on to Gulteri while Sharif and Musharraf were there, and the second aircraft was ready to fire the bomb when Air Marshal Singh told them not to fire. The second Jaguar then fired the bomb in Mushkoh Valley on the Indian side of the LoC.

“I was very sure that he was across the LoC as I had overflown that area earlier myself. I also knew the flight commander personally who was excitable and known for his impetuousness. As it was on a riverbank and with a large number of people, the base could only be Gulteri,” Air Marshal Singh said.

“I then told the flight commander, ‘let me fix the position’. It means that my aircraft had to come to a position where I could physically see his aircraft. When I did that, I saw that he was 10-12 kilometres to my right, clearly in Pakistani territory,” said Air Marshal Singh. But Air Marshal Singh refused to fully blame the pilot, ascribing it to “the aircraft equipment which was so inaccurate in terms of border marking and the maps; and where you were, you could not be sure.”

When Air Marshal Singh and the flight commander returned to base and saw the video recorded by CLDS, it was confirmed that the target lased by the Jaguar was indeed Gulteri. The large number of men seen at the post in the video were listening to the speech being delivered by Sharif.

Was it pure luck that a disaster was averted? “It was purely coincidental that I was airborne at that time,” Air Marshal Singh said. “Else, once a pilot is in the air, acquires a target and confirms it, he has orders to bomb it.” In this case, the target of the bombs would have included Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharraf, in the middle of a war between two nuclear-armed neighbours.

When contacted by The Indian Express, the IAF spokesperson said, “The IAF would not like to comment on any operational details.”

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App

  1. S
    samir fkhan
    Jul 25, 2017 at 9:49 pm
    Indians pilots crossed loc two times during kargil war .One pilot was taken prisoner of war and second one was killed .
    Reply
    1. S
      Sher Khan
      Jul 25, 2017 at 4:17 pm
      "The Indian Express" you are representing a country where more than 200 million muslims live. The 200 million are Muslims, and they love 'Muhammad' more than anything, How can you allow a Dalit hindu to misrepresent peace loving highly educated Indians? See how this Dalit is insulting name of Muhammad by adding hateful nick 'darpok'. I know Indians esp Hindus, many are my best friends, intelligent educated and logical ppl, This illeterate Dalit who tried to hide behind our beloved name Muhammad should have guts to use his real nick or name, Darpok kahin ka
      Reply
      1. J
        jay desouza
        Jul 25, 2017 at 8:47 pm
        you are free to have your opinion and love for any person. But for a civilized person, he was not a prophet. He, at the age of 55, married 6 year old Ayesha, and made her pregnant when she was 11. He married wife of his adopted son. Held many women as slaves. Current ISIS terrorists follow his characteristics. These qualities show that he was not a saint or prophet. But you have right to your opinions. If I am wrong, prove it. or google and find out character of the person you love. By Ex-Md-man.
        Reply
        1. J
          Jahangir Khan
          Aug 12, 2017 at 1:00 pm
          see u on judgement day buddy
      2. K
        Kamal Pasha
        Jul 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm
        In all the Indian movies, India is winner. But in reality, they have lost all wars. You will find the proofs in foreign press not in the Indian press.
        Reply
        1. M
          Mohammed Darpok
          Jul 25, 2017 at 1:54 pm
          Ofcourse India has wone all the 4 wars against the Porki Treacherous Heathen yet your tinpot Porki Generals wear a chest full of medals.... What for ??? For indulging in terrorism , is it ?
          Reply
        2. A
          Abid
          Jul 25, 2017 at 9:50 am
          Kargil War This description of "inherent inaccuracies" in the Indian equipment is nothing new.And then, Indians continue to build "fantasies" ! Imagine such fantasy starting a nuclear war! Where will India stand? India is certainly a dangerous country possessing " inaccurate equipment" ! That's over India, they will nuke their own cities and still claim accurate hits !
          Reply
          1. M
            Mohammed Darpok
            Jul 25, 2017 at 1:56 pm
            Bangla Desh is the biggest fantasy so far. Now wait for an even bigger fantasy in the liberation of POK, G-B, Balouchistan and Sind. Just wait and watch your Porki country disintegrate
            Reply
            1. K
              Kamal Pasha
              Jul 25, 2017 at 5:20 pm
              Darpok. : Your name is Darpok because you are Hindu.
              1. H
                Hayat Muhammad
                Jul 27, 2017 at 7:56 pm
                In bangla desh we lose the war and it became a new muslim independent state. but POK, GB we have won the war in 1948 and capture both areas. now it is not so easy for anyone to seperate baluchistan or other area from us.
            2. R
              RS
              Jul 25, 2017 at 4:40 am
              Another fairy tale from the unbelievables. Reason this is a fish tale is quite clear. This guy supposedly had a bomb but instead of hitting the enemy he drops it in Indian Territory, on his own country. These Bhagats need to get their brains in at least half way working order. All we could think about saying after reading this B#LL S#!T was, "Wah Wah, Kya Baat Hai INKEE!"
              Reply
              1. M
                Mohammed Darpok
                Jul 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm
                Bangla Desh is the biggest fantasy so far. Now wait for an even bigger fantasy in the liberation of POK, G-B, Balouchistan and Sind. Just wait and watch your Porki country disintegrate !!!
                Reply
                1. S
                  Sher Khan
                  Jul 25, 2017 at 3:48 pm
                  Thanks God, got rid of nation (BDesh) b ed as best 'cleaners' around the globe. Kalboshan 'yad ha na', yes you were involved in Balochistan, but we can sniff you, Go feel pride in brutally killing innocent Indians like great body builder Naveed Pathan, feel pride raping innocent indian girls in public buses, Go feel pride your azad media cannot publish my comments.
                  1. H
                    Hayat Muhammad
                    Jul 27, 2017 at 7:58 pm
                    In bangla desh we lose the war and it became a new muslim independent state. but POK, GB we have won the war in 1948 and capture both areas. now it is not so easy for anyone to seperate baluchistan or other area from us
                2. G
                  Ghrum Khan
                  Jul 24, 2017 at 11:34 pm
                  India now needs to focus on current affairs .. instead of crying for what happened in past and how can you forget your fear from our little pigeon who was working for Pakistan 😂😂 ... stop making none sense stories and learn to accept the truth.
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    Mohammed Darpok
                    Jul 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm
                    Bangla Desh is the biggest truth so far. Now wait for an even bigger truth in the liberation of POK, G-B, Balouchistan and Sind. Just wait and watch your Porki country disintegrate
                    Reply
                    1. H
                      Hayat Muhammad
                      Jul 28, 2017 at 8:29 am
                      Our elders have given sacrifices and their blood for Azad Kashmir and Balichistan. Any one can,t capture from us. on the other hand we will capture IOK.
                  2. S
                    Samran Salik
                    Jul 24, 2017 at 9:47 pm
                    I call bull .
                    Reply
                    1. A
                      Ahsan
                      Jul 24, 2017 at 3:33 pm
                      just froze over..!.. this write-up is product of Indian media's usual appe e of making storm in cup of tea, only potential "catastrophe" that Jaguar avoid that day was to save its own capital from becoming a pool of rubble, whole of Dehli is in Pakistan's "laser basket" 24/7 for last 30 years and one doesn't need "access" to classified document to know this.
                      Reply
                      1. M
                        Mohammed Darpok
                        Jul 25, 2017 at 1:57 pm
                        Bangla Desh is the biggest fantasy so far. Now wait for an even bigger fantasy in the liberation of POK, G-B, Balouchistan and Sind. Just wait and watch your Porki country disintegrate!!
                        Reply
                      2. Load More Comments