Analysis | Events | Operation Vijay 1999 | 07th July 2022 | Virtual Wire
Operation Vijay was the code name of the military operation that cleared out the Pakistani infiltration across the LOC in the Kargil sector.
The Air force had played a crucial role in the war successfully clearing out the regular and irregular troops of Pakistan from the Indian positions in the LOC. The Air-force Operation was mainly named Operation Safed Sagar. The war was initiated because of the Pakistani Infiltration crossing the LOC which serves as the de-facto border between India and Pakistan. In a press conference in the earlier phases of the war, the Pak administration put the whole border unrest blame on the Kashmiri Insurgents, but later investigations proved that the Pakistani Paramilitary force had given the Insurgents armed support. The aim of Pakistan was to put international pressure on India based on a serious armed agitation at the LOC border such that the Kashmir issue comes in their favour. It is only one of the instances where the combating forces were fighting at such a high altitude, creating a lot of logistical problems on both sides with both being Nuclear power.
Before the partition of 1947 happened Kargil was one of the Tehsil of Ladakh, it was primitively inhabited by a varied number of ethnic lineages in valleys across the region separated by the high mountains. The partition agreement put a region called Skardu Tehsil of Ladakh in the accord of Pakistan, Skardu is in the Balochistan-Gilgit area now. The Kargil Tehsil has located 207 Km from LOC but just 107 Km from Skardu from where armed supplies and food resources as well could be provided to the lodged Pakistani army.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee (25 December 1924 – 16 August 2018) was an Indian politician and diplomat who served three terms as the prime minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, then for a period of 13 months from 1998 to 1999, followed by a full term from 1999 to 2004. Vajpayee was one of the co-founders and a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). He was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist volunteer organization. He was the first Indian prime minister not of the Indian National Congress to serve a full term in office. He was also a renowned poet and writer. During his tenure as prime minister, India carried out the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. Vajpayee sought to improve diplomatic relations with Pakistan, travelling to Lahore by bus to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. After the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, he sought to restore relations through engagement with President Pervez Musharraf, inviting him to India for a summit at Agra.
Backdrop Incidents of War
With the defeat of Pakistan in 1971, the Simla Accord was signed. Resulting to which there was a prolonged pause in any armed agitation between the two countries. However, the sparks continued between the two countries regarding the control of Siachen Glacier where both the combating forces had lodged outposts on the surrounding mountain ridges in the 1980s. Things took a tough turn in the 1990s since the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits had started this exodus was mainly on account of the separatist activism in Kashmir, leading to increasing economical and social insecurity among the Kashmiri locals. The Kashmiri Hindu Pandits were being tormented and killed, the women were being tortured and their homes were being seized as well. This whole incident put the two countries' border atmosphere in a very tense situation. Pledging not to resort to military action the two countries signed the Lahore declaration in 1999, which aimed at solving the Kashmir issue through negotiations and discussions.
Ved Prakash Malik PVSM, AVSM (born 1 November 1939) served as the 19th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army from 30 September 1997 to 30 September 2000. He was the Army Chief during the Kargil War.
He has been awarded the following awards:
Param Vishisht Seva Medal.
Ati Vishisht Seva Medal.
Samanya Seva Medal.
Special Service Medal.
Sainya Seva Medal.
High Altitude Service Medal.
50th Anniversary of Ind. Medal.
30 years of Service Medal.
The Beginning of Infiltration
In the winters of 1998-99, a particular faction of the Pakistan Army had started giving training to Mujahidin to get into the Indian side of the LOC. The infiltration Operation was named as Operation Badr. The operation was aimed at cutting off the link between Kashmir and Ladakh succeeding which the Indian army would be forced to move back consequently forcing the Indian Government to negotiate the Kashmir issue.
Pervez Musharraf NI(M), TBT, (born 11 August 1943) is a Pakistani former politician and a retired four-star general of the Pakistan Army who became the 10th president of Pakistan after the successful military takeover of the federal government in 1999. He also served as the 10th Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee from 1998 to 2001 and the 7th Chief of Army Staff from 1998 to 2007. Musharraf held the presidency from 2001 until 2008 when he tendered his resignation to avoid impeachment. Born in Delhi during the British Raj, Musharraf was raised in Karachi and Istanbul. He studied mathematics at Forman Christian College in Lahore and was also educated at the Royal College of Defence Studies in the United Kingdom. Musharraf entered the Pakistan Military Academy in 1961 and was commissioned into the Pakistan Army in 1964, playing an active role in the Afghan civil war.
Events of War
The armed conflict between the two nations had stepwise progress, the initial stage being the Pakistan army occupying the Indian allotted areas of the LOC, simultaneously taking over NH-1 of Kashmir to mobilize their food and resources, the Indian army was wrong in estimating the preparations of Pakistan battalion so in the initial stage they had to struggle to meet the war strategy of the opposition. The last stage of the war was Indian forces recapturing most of the areas that had been occupied by the Pak Military also Pakistan had to withdraw the army on account of the increasing International Pressure. The preparations to occupy the Indian territory started way back in Feb 1999 when the North Light Infantry was sent to occupy the LOC regions of India, as per the reports released by RAW they were mainly Kashmiri Guerillas and Afghan Mercenaries.
The lower Mushko valley was the point where the deportations were taking place. To be speaking honestly it was a sort of intelligence failure on the part of India that these intrusions were not detected early. Only after the Indian Patrol Team led by Capt. Saurabh Kalia was ambushed by Pakistan the investigations started and the Indian army was asked to be prepared for action and strong combat against the forces. The Indian Government was sharp enough to take action very shortly, it is even reported that Mr Nawaz Sharif came to know about the Pakistani Infiltration from the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee after he made a phone call to Pakistan once the intrusion was proved. Operation Vijay was started as fast as possible deploying 200,000 troops.
Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif (born 25 December 1949) is a Pakistani businessman and politician who served as the Prime Minister of Pakistan for three non-consecutive terms. Nawaz, the longest-serving prime minister of Pakistan, has served a total of more than 9 years. Born into the upper-middle-class Sharif family in Lahore, Nawaz is the son of Muhammad Sharif, the founder of Ittefaq and Sharif Group. He is the elder brother of Shehbaz Sharif, who also became the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2022. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan, Nawaz is one of the wealthiest men in Pakistan, with an estimated net worth of at least USD $1.6 billion. Most of his wealth originates from his businesses in steel construction. Before entering politics in the mid-1980s, Nawaz studied business at Government College and law at the University of Punjab. In 1981, Nawaz was appointed by President Zia as the minister of finance for the province of Punjab. Backed by a loose coalition of conservatives, Nawaz was elected as the Chief Minister of Punjab in 1985 and re-elected after the end of martial law in 1988. In 1990, Nawaz led the conservative Islamic Democratic Alliance and became the 12th prime minister of Pakistan.
It was difficult for the Indian army to fight in the Kargil terrain, mainly division and corps Operations could not be mounted and the only possible thing that they could do was employ paramilitary forces of India and the Air Force. The total number of Indian Soldiers employed at the Dras Sector was 30,000. The infiltrators numbered 5,000 the conflict being at its peak, the figure includes troops from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir who acted as additional artillery support. Operation Safed Sagar was started for cleansing up the Pakistan-occupied areas. The Indian Government gave permission for Air-strikes only on 26th May and from 25th May the deployment of land forces started. In the initial stages, the Indian Air-force crew found it difficult to fly their planes at that altitude, however, since there was no Pakistani dominance the Indian forces could modify their indices for the missile launching trajectories. The infiltrator had in the training small arms, grenade launchers, mortars, artilleries and anti-aircraft guns.
The Indian air force mainly targeted the NH-1 highway which had been badly blocked by the infiltrant lodging and their arms and ammunitions. In the peak of the battle the Army made an attempt to recapture the peaks that were in the immediate vicinity of the NH-1, in this procedure the Tiger Hill and Tololong complex in Dras was targeted which dominated the Srinagar-Leh route. The two crucial points that Pakistan had occupied was point 5353 and point 4590. Point 4590 recapture had the Indian Army having the maximum number of casualties by mid-June most of the infiltrations were cleared however shelling at the Dras Sector continued at some parts until the end of the War. The fighter planes used in this Operation were Bofors FH-77B field Howitzer which proved to be a successful engine in the war however MiG-21 fighter plane was shot down at the Batalic Sector , it was being driven by Captain Nachiketa.
The popular Arms and ammunitions used by India are given as follows-
The Mikoyan MiG-27 is a variable-sweep ground-attack aircraft, originally built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union and later licence-produced in India by Hindustan Aeronautics as the Bahadur ("Valiant"). It is based on the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 fighter aircraft attacks but optimised for air-to-ground attacks. Unlike the MiG-23, the MiG-27 did not have widespread use outside Russia, as most countries opted for the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23BN and Sukhoi Su-22 instead. It remains in service only with the Kazakh Air Forces in the ground attack role. All Russian, Indian, Sri Lankan and Ukrainian MiG-27s have been retired. The MiG-27 shares the basic airframe of the MiG-23, but with a revised nose – nicknamed "Utkonos" ("Platypus") in Russian service, first introduced on the MiG-23B. Dissatisfaction with the MiG-23BN led to the further development of the basic airframe to accommodate a stronger undercarriage, simpler intakes and a shorter exhaust nozzle, without radar in favour of a downward-sloping profile for improved pilot visibility, a laser rangefinder and a marked-target seeker.
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. Its nicknames include: "balalaika", because its planform resembles the stringed musical instrument of the same name; "Ołówek", Polish for "pencil", due to the shape of its fuselage, and "Én Bạc", meaning "silver swallow", in Vietnamese. Approximately 60 countries across four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations six decades after its maiden flight. It made aviation records, becoming the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in aviation history, the most-produced combat aircraft since the Korean War and, previously, the longest production run of any combat aircraft (now exceeded by both the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon).
The Anza is a series of shoulder-fired, man-portable surface-to-air missiles produced by Pakistan. Guided by an infrared homing seeker, the Anza is used for short range air defence. The Anza is produced by Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), being one of the facility's main conventional weapons projects. Development was originally undertaken to eliminate dependence on importing expensive foreign systems. Various versions of the Anza are currently in service with the Pakistan Army, with the Mk-III version being the most recent. The Anza is also offered for export, Malaysia being its only known export customer after receiving 100 Anza Mk-I in 2002 and, later, a further 500 Anza Mk-II systems. The Anza Mk-I entered service with the Pakistan Army in January 1990, followed by the Anza Mk-II in September 1994. Serial production of Anza Mk-III for the Pakistan Army was announced in 2006. In recent years, Pakistan has advertised the Anza series for export, displaying it at the International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) 2007 event in the United Arab Emirates and at the IDEAS 2008 defence exhibition in Pakistan.
The Mil Mi-17 is a Soviet-designed Russian military helicopter family introduced in 1975 (Mi-8M), continuing in production as of 2021 at two factories, in Kazan and Ulan-Ude. It is known as the Mi-8M series in Russian service. The helicopter is mostly used as a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter, as well as an armed gunship version. Mi-17 was fitted with the larger Klimov TV3-117MT engines, rotors, and transmission developed for the Mi-14, along with fuselage improvements for heavier loads. Optional engines for "hot and high" conditions are the 1545 kW (2070 ship) Isotov TV3-117VM. Recent exports to China and Venezuela for use in high mountains have the new Klimov VK-2500 version of the Klimov TV3-117 engine with FADEC control.
The Dassault Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine, fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It was designed in the late 1970s as a lightweight fighter to replace the Mirage III for the French Air Force (Armée de l'air). The Mirage 2000 evolved into a multi-role aircraft with several variants developed, with sales to a number of nations. It was later developed into the Mirage 2000N and 2000D strike variants, the improved Mirage 2000-5, and several export variants. Over 600 aircraft were built and it has been in service with nine nations. In 1999, when the Kargil War broke out, the IAF was asked to act jointly with ground troops on 25 May. The code name assigned to their role was Operation Safed Sagar and the Mirage 2000 flew its first sortie on 30 May. This multi-role aircraft, the most advanced in the IAF, performed remarkably well during the whole conflict in the high Himalayas and was considered the game-changer in the two-month war.
Fälthaubits 77 (Swedish "Field Howitzer 77") or FH77 is a Swedish 155 mm howitzer, developed and manufactured by Bofors. It is also colloquially known as the Bofors gun in India. There were several versions, the original (sometimes referred to as Haubits 77 A) with a 38 calibre barrel and sliding block mechanism, the export version FH77 B version with a 39 calibre barrel and an interrupted ogival screw breech. For the demonstrator of the Archer Artillery System, some FH77A were modified into FH 77 AD L/45, while the series production was FH77Bs rebuilt into FH77 BW L/52. The carriage was also used for used in the Swedish coastal artillery. The Bofors scandal was a major political scandal that occurred between Sweden and India during the 1980s and 1990s, initiated by Congress politicians and implicating the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and several other members of the Swedish and Indian governments, who were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB for winning a bid to supply India's 155 mm field howitzer.