How India Bombed Skardu Airbase Runway in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir in 1971 War
File photo of Indian flag. (Reuters)
The India-Pakistan war of 1971 is among the biggest confrontations between the two countries of the subcontinent. The 1971 war resulted in the formation of the new nation of Bangladesh. The war started with pre-emptive aerial strikes on several Indian air stations which led to a spike in hostilities with Pakistan and India’s involvement in the war liberation of East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh. It was one of the shortest wars in history lasting just 13 days and ending up a decisive victory for India.
During the war, in the north-eastern part of Kashmir, India was worried about its territorial safety and its communication with Ladakh. As Pakistani pickets in Kargil region overlooked the Srinagar-Leh roadways, the infiltration attempts from the Gilgit and Skardu areas were also a cause of worry.
One of the airbases in question here is Skardu, which is located in the Gilgit-Baltistan, area of Pakistan. It now serves as both a domestic civilian airport, as well as a forward operating base of the Pakistan Air Force. The base is at an elevation of 7,316 feet, approximately]y 2,230 metre above sea level.
A daring air raid was conducted by the Indian Air Force during the 1971 war. The Indian Air Force (IAF) penetrated deep into enemy airspace as they were tasked to destroy the main runway at Skardu.
The IAF had bombed the main runway at Skardu in 1971, which dealt the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) a body blow. The raid on Sakrdu airbase was carried out on December 17, 1971. Three Canberra aircrafts and An-12 aircrafts were used by the IAF. The An-12 led the first bombing, followed by Canberras a few minutes later.
The IAF bombed the main runway and there was no damage to PAF's other assets or personnel as they were avoided purposely by the Indians.
Satellite imagery of the bombing was not available then, so the IAF used Canberra aircrafts for confirming bomb damage assessment. Some of the IAF’s fighter bombers were also fitted with cameras for such aerial imaging missions.