IAF's man behind the machine matters, here's why

General VP Malik, who commanded the Indian Army during Kargil, shares that Pakistan’s folly is that ‘they never understood the ethos of the Indian Armed Forces’.

Published: 10th March 2019 05:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th March 2019 09:18 AM   |  A+A-

In the battle of brains over brawn and skill over technology, the former has always prevailed. One of the most recent examples of skill overcoming advanced technology is when Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, manning a MiG-21 Bison, took down a much more technologically advanced F-16 in a dogfight near the Nowshera sector.

Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd)
was awarded the Vir Chakra

Abhinandan went after the F-16 after the Pakistani jet had breached Indian airspace and attempted to target military installations at Nowshera. In the process, Abhinandan shot down the jet and had to eject from his MiG-21. He landed in Pak territory and was kept in captivity for 60 hours by the armed forces. Several videos of his interrogation were leaked via social media, but in all the footage Abhinandan held his ground and refused to divulge any crucial information to his captors. His father, S Varthaman, a decorated and accomplished retired Air Marshal, reacted to the footage by saying that his son was a “true soldier” and he admired the way he “talked so bravely”.

General VP Malik, who commanded the Indian Army during Kargil, shares that Pakistan’s folly is that ‘they never understood the ethos of the Indian Armed Forces’. They have primarily relied on their equipment, which has led to their downfall on each occasion.

“Our brave officers and men showed raw courage when they marched forward against the enemy who was well entrenched and could see our every move. We dislodged them not due to weapons, but the exemplary leadership and innovative battleground thinking of our men,” says General Malik.

Leadership counts

Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd) was awarded a Vir Chakra for his gallantry as a young navy Lieutenant when he attacked with the Indian Air Force’s squadron during the 1971 war. He entered Pakistan air space, attacked Islamabad Air base destroying two smaller and a bigger aircraft.

Talking of leadership Admiral Arun Prakash replied in brief, “We train leaders”. The former Naval chief was the Commandant of the tri-services National Defence Academy which nurtures the officer cadre. He brings out how the senior leaders shaped the talent.

Citing example of his Commanding officer in 1971 war when Admiral Prakash was posted with the IAF’s 20 Squadron, he said that his Squadron boss, Wg Cdr (Later Air Vice Marshal) Cecil Vivian Parker,  “was an unusual combination; a great flyer, and also a strict disciplinarian”.

“He made it clear that if we ever went to war, he wanted to be sure of two things: (a) that he had prepared us for it in the best possible manner, and (b) that he went in ahead of everyone else. The squadron was put through rigorous training thereafter.

PAF was much better placed

The Pakistan Air Force was operating modern aircraft carrying better weapons and missiles. The IAF had Sukhoi-7s, Hunters, Gnats, HF-24s, Mysteres and Vampires in its inventory, which was armed only with 30/20 mm guns. The PAF had air-to-air missiles in their arsenal.

The IAF pilots were aware of the air-to-air missile but it never deterred them. Legend of 1965 and 1971 wars Wing Commander Vinod Nebb (Retd) shares, “The Air Force trains us to have nerves of steel. In 1965 when during an operation I was caught by PAF’s three Sabre jets in my Hunter. While two were flying towards me in scissor formation, the third came head on. I was running low on fuel. I decided that I will not die of an enemy bullet, so decided to dash towards the aircraft coming head on towards me. At the last moment the PAF pilot turned left and I came behind and shot him.”

Wg Cdr Nebb was awarded with Vir Chakra in 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan.Lt Gen VK Chaturvedi, a gunner, also fought the 1971 war. He says, “We as young officers never bothered about the weapons or the equipment which the enemy was using. The kind of atmosphere which remains in the units can lead a person to perform his best even in the most demanding situation.”

As far as the budgetary constraint is concerned, it has always been a matter of discussion and our equipment at occasions have been comparatively a shade below to what US was supplying to Pakistan.
It all began since 1954 and by 1964, as per the Stockholm Peace Research Institute Pakistan received US$ 1.5 billion of massive military assistance.

While the Pakistan Army got 460 M-47 and M-48 tanks, the Navy inducted coastal minesweepers, two destroyers, and Pakistan Navy was the first to induct a submarine among the South Asian country.The Pakistan Air Force had acquired 120 modern F-86 Sabres fighters between 1956 and 1958. Pakistan got another first of its kind missile in the 60s.The United States of America gave PAF the modern Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, which was equipped with the advanced Sidewinder air-to-air missile.

Five Virtues instilled during training

Leadership
Camaraderie
Flexibility
Innovation
Regimentation

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