An Indian Air Force fighter pilot flying Jaguar mistakenly put a Pakistani military base in its firing-range and was ready to bomb it, but was directed to pull back by his seniors during the Kargil crisis in 1999, a former Indian Air Force official said on Monday.
The targeting of the Pakistani base on June 24, 1999 had the full potential of triggering an all-out war between India and Pakistan, as then and now Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and then Pakistan Army Chief Pervez Musharraf were present in the vicinity, reported Pakistani media.
An IAF official who was then holding senior positions in the IAFs Western Air Command said that a flight commander was assigned to bomb Point 4388 in Kargil.
He added instead of targeting the Point 4388 he landed up aiming at a Pakistani military base in Gulteri through a cockpit laser designation system (CLDS).
The Indian Express report reads “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,”
The national daily quoting a government document wrote, “Later, it was ascertained that the PM of Pakistan, Mr Nawaz Sharif, was present at Gulteri when the target was attacked.”
Pakistani media had reported on June 25, 1999, that Sharif was in Gulteri to address the troops. He had called for a dialogue with India to defuse the war-like situation along the Line of Control.
The Indian daily reported that both Pakistani Prime Minister and Army Chief were present at the base when it became the focus of the Jaguars target, even though the Indian government had not allowed the IAF to cross over the LoC.
IAF spokesperson denied talking to media in connection to the report.
Retired Air Marshal A K Singh, who was a senior officer in the Western Air Command then, said that the pilot of the first aircraft had called him and told him that the target was a big military camp and that he had it on the CLDS.
"I was airborne. When he told me about the target, I told him not to fire," said the retired Air Marshal.
Retired Air Marshal Vinod Patney, then Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Air Command said, “The pilot of the the first aircraft had doubt about the target he told the pilot of the second jet not to fire.”