On Kargil Vijay Diwas on July 26, the Indian Air Force celebrated the pivotal role MiG-29s had played in the conflict with a remarkable flypast

On the 24th Kargil Vijay Diwas, the Indian Air Force (IAF) paid tribute to the soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in the 1999 Kargil War with a spectacular flypast of the MiG-29 fulcrum fighter aircraft over the Kargil War Memorial in Drass. The thunderous roar of the MiG-29s over Kargil brought back memories of the pivotal role they had played in the historic conflict, where they gained an upper hand over the Pakistani F-16s.

During the Kargil conflict, as the Indian Army valiantly faced the Pakistani Army, the IAF deployed its formidable 'fulcrums' - the MiG-29 fighter jets - to counter the Pakistani Air Force's F-16s. The MiG-29s played a crucial role in attaining ‘air superiority’ over the contested area of Drass, executing numerous strikes with pinpoint accuracy. Advanced upgrades and weapon systems, such as the radar-guided R-27 from Russia, provided the Indian MiG-29s with an edge that the F-16s of the Pakistan Air Force sorely lacked due to US arms prohibitions.

MiG-29 vs F-16: The Fear Factor

The MiG-29 fulcrums proved to be a formidable adversary for the Pakistani F-16s, instilling fear among their pilots. The Indian aircraft's superior mobility and possession of R-73 and R-27 missiles with greater target designation angles provided them a significant advantage in both visual and beyond-visual combat conditions. Pakistani pilots were cautious about engaging the modern Indian fighters, well aware of the risk of losing their limited number of F-16s.

This air superiority allowed the IAF to provide uninterrupted fire support to the ground forces during the intense Kargil conflict.

Role of IAF During The Kargil War

The Indian Air Force's contribution during the Kargil War was crucial in turning the tide in India's favour. By gaining control of the skies over Kargil, the IAF played a pivotal role in providing close air support to the ground troops and neutralising enemy bunkers with precision strikes. While the IAF kept dominating the skies at 18,000 ft, the Pakistan Air Force, led by the former Chief of Air Staff, Pervaiz Mehdi Qureshi, showed an immense lack of capability.

Enhancing The MiG-29 Fleet

As years went by, India continued to enhance its MiG-29 fleet. Upgrades to UPG standards equipped them with new radio-electronic equipment and relatively modern radars, giving them a substantial edge over the ageing F-16 As and Bs of Pakistan (those that haven't been through their midlife overhauls).

The flypast of the fulcrums served as an effective reminder of their heroic role during the 1999 Kargil War. The bravery and skill of the Indian Air Force pilots, along with the prowess of the MiG-29s, will forever be remembered as a testament to India's triumph in the face of adversity.