Group captain (R) Mohonto Panging, the first Sukhoi-30K pilot from North-East India shared how while performing combat air patrol over Naliya near Gujrat border with Pakistan, He spotted Pakistani F-16 rushing towards the International border for the possible intercept of this aircraft and hostile behavior of the PAF F-16 was countered by Radar lock on the aircraft to drive home a message to the Pilot that he will be shot down if he tries any stunt.

On this date that year, on 10 August 1999, Pakistani Naval aircraft, Flight Atlantic-91, a French-built Breguet Atlantic plane was shot down after it entered Indian airspace just a month after the Kargil conflict had ceased. With tensions still running high, IAF ground radars picked up what was positively identified as French-built Atlantique with the Pakistan Navy when it breached the International border which was quickly followed up by a scramble of Two Mig-21 from the Naliya base of IAF.

Squadron Leader Prashant Bundela flying the lead Mig-21 visually identified that Pakistani Navy aircraft and radioed the pilot to follow him to the nearest airbase but the pilot decided to carry out hostile maneuvers to shake off the pair of Mig-21 and make a run back towards the International border. Aircraft was immediately declared hostile and R-60 a short-range lightweight infrared homing air-to-air missile was fired that hit the Atlantique’s left engine.

On August 11, 1999, three IAF Mi-8 transport helicopters with 50 international journalists in total on board this helicopters had taken off from Naliya Air Force base in Gujarat and were flying towards the Sir Creek region in the Rann of Kutch to spot the wreckage of a French-built Atlantique maritime reconnaissance aircraft but Pakistani forces fired Swedish RBS-70 surface-to-air missile at our helicopter, Mi-8 helicopter dived down and managed to save its self from the missile.

What followed for the next 10 days was a hostile combat air patrol by the Pakistani Air Force that was responded well by the Indian Air Force, PAF was looking for revenge and was trying hard to create provocation by breaching the 10km safe zone that each country had agreed to maintain to avoid any airspace violations. IAF deployed Mig-29 and Su-30K (Predecessor of Su-30MKI) with Mig-21 as a backup to counter Pakistan’s deployment of F-16s in the area.

PAF was flying aggressive combat sorties near the border and was looking to ambush Indian jet across the border by trying to draw IAF aircraft near the International border. PAF jets frequently came 4-5km away from the border to provoke often by a pair of F-16s with more giving cover at higher altitudes but the BVR advantage that IAF had prevented them from trying to cross the border and intense flying started taking its toll on the 40 odd F-16s that PAF had back then when it was already under US sanctions with the supply of spares interrupted.

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