Recalling the decisive Battle of Longewala, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria on Thursday said the plan of armoured thrust by the Pakistan army was “brilliant” and could have changed the course of the 1971 war, but the only thing it probably forgot to factor, was India’s air power.
The Pakistan army forgot what half a squadron of Hunter aircraft sitting in Jaisalmer could do, and that was probably their “only mistake”, he said.
India is celebrating the 50th anniversary year of the country’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) chief was speaking at the launch of a book ‘The Epic Battle of Longewala’ authored by Air Marshal (retd) Bharat Kumar at the IAF Museum at Palam.
The dais and chairs for audience was placed centrally in an open courtyard flanked by two T-59 tanks of the Pakistan army damaged during the battle, and Hunter and Krishak and other aircraft, which played a critical role during the battle.
“A lot has been said about the Battle of Longewala. And, the plan of armoured thrust by Pakistan army itself was brilliant in terms of the area and axis chosen, the Longewala-Jaisalmer axis, and if it had succeeded, it would have changed the course of the war on the western front and the final result,” Bhadauria said.
“The only thing the Pakistan army probably forgot to factor, was India’s air power. And, they thought what half a squadron of Hunter aircraft sitting in Jaisalmer could do, and that was probably their only mistake,” he said.
The IAF chief also said the Battle of Longewala brings to light a scenario where air power can bring “asymmetric results if time and place chosen correctly”.
“On air power, over the decades, we have learned our lessons well, and graduated to a stage where it has been incorporated deep into our plan, synergy and interaction with the services,” he said.
The IAF chief said it was important that stories of valour are documented in books and passed on to the next generations.