The 1971 Indo-Pak Air War: Reflections and Projections

Editors: Air Marshal Anil Chopra PVSM AVSM VM VSM (Retd),Dr Shalini Chawla

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Fifty years after the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, it is time to recollect the great military campaigns and reflect on the lessons and changes that have helped make India a stronger power. The two-front 13-day war began with the anticipated Pakistan Air Force (PAF) pre-emptive strike on December 3, 1971. Code-named “Operation Chengiz Khan”, the PAF targeted 11 Indian Air Force (IAF) airbases and other installations. This also paved the way for India’s formal entry into the war for East Pakistan’s Independence, and ultimately, creation of Bangladesh. The war ended with surrender of Pakistan’s Eastern Command in Dhaka on December 16, 1971 and over 93,000 Pakistani personnel were taken prisoner. The IAF was engaged in every facet of air operations, and air power was indeed a significant contributor to the historic victory. The 1971 air war was one among the last in which classic close combat took place between two major Air Forces. The air war saw clear air superiority being established against a major Air Force. The war ended with the birth of a nation. It was also the largest surrender of a force after the Second World War. The book records the diverse aspects of the air operations during the war in correct perspective and explores the lessons highlighting some outstanding examples of jointmanship. The book revisits India’s national strategy during that period, and analyses how the 1971 War altered Pakistan’s strategic posture that we see today.

Editors: Air Marshal Anil Chopra PVSM AVSM VM VSM (Retd),Dr Shalini Chawla

Air Marshal Anil Chopra, PVSM, AVSM, VM, VSM (Retd) was a fighter pilot, test pilot, and a pioneer of the Mirage-2000 fleet. He commanded a Mirage-2000 Squadron and the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE). He was the Team Leader of the MiG-21 Bison upgrade project in Russia. He has commanded operational air bases in both the Western and Eastern Sectors. He was head of the IAF in J&K, and head of the inspections of the IAF. He retired as Air Officer Personnel. He has been a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal, and a member of the Executive Council of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). An avid writer and author. Currently, he is Director General, Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), New Delhi.

Dr Shalini Chawla is Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), New Delhi. She joined CAPS in 2006 and has published more than 100 research articles in national and international journals on a wide range of issues relating to Pakistan and Afghanistan. She has authored four books and lectures regularly at various universities, think-tanks and leading institutions of the Indian Armed Forces and Foreign Services. She is actively engaged in India’s Track 1.5 initiatives. She received a Commendation and Badge by the Chief of Air Staff in October 2020 for her praiseworthy contribution to the service.





List of Abbreviations

1. ACM PC Lal: The Quiet Orchestrator:The Eagle’s View
Anil Chopra

2. ‘Squaring Off’: The Balance of Forces and its Implications
Vikram Singh

3. Offensive Operations in the West: A Calibrated Approach
VK ‘Jimmy’ Bhatia

4. Offensive Air Operations in the Eastern Theatre: The Coercive Impact and Some Lessons
Harish Masand

5. Air-Land Operations in the East: The Game Changer
Arjun Subramaniam

6. The Battle of Longewala: The Quick Response and Decisive Impact of Air Power
Bharat Kumar

7. The Bombing Saga: Canberra and Antonov-12 Operations in the 1971 War
PVS Jagan Mohan

8. Game-Changing Helicopter Employment
Rajesh Isser

9. Forward Air Controllers: Significant Operational Role
HK Bajaj

10. Operational Approach and Psyche of Pakistan Air Force
Diptendu Choudhury

11. How did the 1971 War Alter Pakistan’s Strategic Posture?
Shalini Chawla

12. Fifty Years after the 1971 War: Revisiting India’s National Strategy
Kapil Kak

13. Nuclear Weapons and Conventional War: Changes in Indo-Pak Dynamics from 1971 to 2021
Manpreet Sethi

Narratives and Interactions

Roaring MiGs of No. 28 Squadron: An Interaction with AVM BK BishnoiVrC& Bar (Retd)
RR Chaudhary

Operation Kilo Flight: Night Attack by Otter Aircraft

Chronology of Air Action: Indo-Pak War of 1971

The List of Iaf Gallantry Award (PVX, MVC and VrC) Winners – 1971 Ops




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