VETERAN claimed he is the one who assisted in first and the last aerial kill of PAF against Bharat. The first on 10 April, 1959 and the last one on 17 Dec, 1971. He was sharing his experiences in a non-stop monologue like he is actually sitting on a radar screen on ground and controlling live action in air. It was the coffee shop of coffee shop of a defence officers’ club. The serene and historic environment, numerous old colleagues and smart mess attendants serving hot tea were adding ecstasy to the interview of Group Captain Rab Nawaz Choudhry (Retd).
The first aerial kill of PAF, he recalls was on Eid day 10 April, 1959. Pilot officer Rab Nawaz was detailed as duty controller at the Sector Operational Centre (SOC), while he was posted at PAF Base Sargodha (Mushaf). Sargodha was not an operational base as yet and he was monitoring the aerial borders on Marconi radars situated at Wagowal and Lahore. The radar had a coverage range of 115 miles only. Suddenly the radar deployed at Wagowal (near Sargodha) picked up a blip on radar depicting a bogey (unidentified enemy aircraft). It was reported to Rab Nawaz at the SOC. Initially he thought it might be a fake blip, but was soon convinced it was an enemy aircraft as the aircraft route was established entering Pakistani air space from the Amritsar-Lahore border. The intruders were probably thinking PAF is asleep and busy in celebrating Eid. Rab Nawaz immediately picked up the hotline telephone and contacted Air Defence Alert (ADA) pilots on duty in Peshawar.
The pilots on ADA were Squadron Leader MNA Butt and Flight Lieutenant Younus. Younus who attended the phone was a course senior to Rab Nawaz. He used the nick name of Rab Nawaz Rabboo and wanted an authentication. Rab Nawaz asked him not to waste time, immediately get air borne and get after the enemy intruder. In air he advised both the pilots to listen only and follow his instructions. Rab Nawaz recalled it was a difficult interception as the chasing pilots had to follow the trail of intruder. Ensuing the Foe both the Pakistani falcons lost the trail of intruder. However Rab Nawaz constantly guided them towards the prey. Soon both the pilots reached the intruder, which was a Canberra aircraft flying at 45,000 feet in air about 110 miles within radar range. The Pakistani F-86 could reach to 45000 feet but with fuel tanks and missiles it could have affected the precision and probability of bullet/missile loss. Rab Nawaz placed both of chasing aircraft in a position to hunt the Canberra against the sun, where the foe could be put in uncertainty and could not see them clearly. However the Bharati pilots got the image of Pakistani eagles. Surprised to see they have been challenged by PAF, both the pilot and navigator ended up in a panic.
They knew they could not escape now. Right over Pakistan’s territory they have no answer like Kulbhushan Yadav, what is their business in Pakistan’s territory? They still attempted to dodge this PAF duo by manoeuvring two consecutive sharp turns considering F-86 will be outmanoeuvred and they will manage to enter their borders. The Pakistani pilots were trying not to drop their fuel tanks and shoot the aggressors from bottom without climbing high. Bharati champions forgot with every smart sharp turn they were losing height, making the defending Pakistani pilots’ job easy to shoot clean. Flight Lieutenant Younus fired with precision and lo the Bharatis met their fate. Both the pilot and navigator managed to eject and were taken into custody by local villagers at Gorakhpur at the Adiala road Rawalpindi. Debris of the aircraft fell near Basali village Bangial, near Rawat. The people of Basali village still call the place as “Jahaz wali Lurri”. The natives used a metallic part of the debris of aircraft as a school bell in a local school. Each time it rung it announced mourning of Bharati Air Force.
A series of telephone calls started pouring in to Rab Nawaz from all over Pakistan Air Force. Majority of the callers cheered the news, one odd individual felt apprehended by figuring an all out war between Bharat and Pakistan. Pilot officer Rab Nawaz Chaudhry did not deter and replied “That is not my problem sir; I have done what I was supposed to do”. The retired officer continued that he was later called by Wg Cdr Rollo and was appreciated again. “I have kept one of the parachutes of the bailed out Bharati intruders as a souvenir for you. You may collect it whenever you visit Chaklala next time.”
Recalling his duty in destroying the last Bharati aircraft by Flt Lt Maqsood Aamir, he narrated he was the duty controller at Sargodha on 17 Dec, 1971. Flt Lt Maqsood Amir and Flt Lt Taloot Mirza were in air for a routine patrol mission. Rab Nawaz monitored two Mig-21s scrambled from Amritsar base. Both of them headed towards Pasrur presumably in support of Bharati Sina engaged with Pak Army. PAF radar did not have coverage for these intruders, but Rab Nawaz managed to detect them with their VHF communication using their call sign “Rats”. He guided Maqsood and Taloot towards the intruders. Soon Pakistani and Bharati pilots came against each other in a one-on-one encounter for a dogfight. Leader of MiG 21 formation immediately fired on Maqsood Amir, who managed to escape and in return fired at the Mig-21 in range. Flt Lt Tejwant Singh had no option but to eject and was taken POW by Pak Army troops deployed in Pasrur area. Group Captain Rab Nawaz commonly known as Rabboo still has the same charm and manners of fighting corpse of PAF at the age of 86 years and prays for the safety of progress of PAF.
From PAF Spokesperson.
– The writer is a PAF spokesperson.