How the Outgunned IAF Beat Deadly Pak ‘Sidewinder Missile’


New Delhi: Although Armed with the deadly American ‘Sidewinder missile’ Pakistani airforce had been humiliated in the war. The clever and courageous Indian fighter pilots devised a concrete plan to misguide heat seeking sidewinders.

Although it appeared simple the planned worked amazingly. The sidewinder missiles track their target by seeking the heat generated by the enemy fighters (Indian planes), after a few set backs the Indian pilots engaged the PAF fighters much coler to the ground level.

They Indian fighters intentionally took the dog fight much closer to the ground, the PAF jets taking the bait chased the Indian Gnats and fired sidewinder missiles to kill. However, to their utter horror they found that the heat coming from the earth surface is confusing the heat seeking missiles and the much boosted American sidewinder failed to hit a kill.

This proved to be of a great moral booster for the IAF and a shocker for the PAF, which never again stood the onslaught of the Indian fighters again.

On the eve of 1965 war, IAF had 466 combat aircraft against 203 of the PAF.2 PAF had 16 aircraft in East Pakistan and the rest in West. Against this IAF had deployed 176 aircraft in the East to take care of the Chinese and East Pakistani threat. Thus, IAF had 290 aircraft facing West Pakistan. Numerically this gave IAF a superiority of 1.4:1 against PAF in the West and 11:1 in the East.

On 6th Sept PAF launched pre-emptive attack against four IAF air bases and three radar stations, i.e. Pathankot, Adhampur, Halwara, Jamnagar airfields and radar stations at Amritsar, Firozpur and Jamnagar. PAF’s attack over Pathankot met with great success. PAF claimed to have destroyed 7 MiG-21s, 5 Mysteres, and 2 Packet transport aircraft. IAF admitted to losing 2 MiG-21s, 6 Mysteres, 1 Packet, 1 Gnat as destroyed and damage to 2 Gnats and 1 Mystere. These aircraft were destroyed because they were not sufficiently dispersed and camouflaged. Some of them had just landed back after operational sorties and were being refuelled.

This was true, especially because of its Sidewinder missile capability of Sabres and Star fighters. Though, it was known that only 25 percent Sabres were missile capable, but to every IAF pilot who would have seen a Sabre in air, it would have been prudent to consider it Sidewinder capable.