The India-Pakistan battle that ended under 3 minutes
First Published 22, Nov 2020, 9:25 AM
November 22 marks a momentous day for the Indian Air Force. The first-ever aerial dogfight between Indian and Pakistani air forces erupted on this day in 1971, and the latter was dealt a bloody nose in under three minutes.
On November 22, 1971, four PAF Sabres intruded into Indian airspace in the Eastern Sector while providing support to the Pakistani ground units.
In his book 'My years with the IAF', former Air Chief Marshal PC Lal recollected how at around 1448 hours, the radar picked up the four Sabres as they pulled up in a north westerly direction to about 2,000 ft (610 m) above ground level. Within a minute, the ORP at Dum Dum was scrambled. Four Gnats took off by 1451 hours led by the formation leader Flt Lt Roy Andrew Massey. It was less than three minutes from the time the Sabres were detected by the radar.
IAF's Gnats intercepted the Sabres and shot down three over the skies of Jessore in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). All 4 aircraft or 'Swifts' (as they were called) of the Number 22 Squadron returned to base unscathed.
Flt Lt Parvez Mehdi Qureshi, who went on to become PAkistan's Air Force Chief years later, and Fg Offr Khalil Ahmed -- the two PAF pilots who ejected over India were captured and produced before a crowded press conference the next day.
The IAF heroes of Boyra dogfight were pilots Flt Lt Roy Massey VrC, Fg Offr Donald Lazarus VrC, Flt Lt MA Ganapathy VrC & Flt Lt S Saures. Fighter controller during the engagement was Flt Lt KB Bagchi VM.