The First Pakistan Air Force Aircraft Claimed by Indian AAA

During the India-Pakistan War of September 1965, Havildar Perumal C of 27 Air Defence Regiment was awarded the Vir Chakra for shooting down a Pakistan Air Force F-86 Sabre on September 3, 1965. His citation reads as follows-

On 3 September 1965, while commanding a detachment of an air defence battery guarding Akhnoor bridge, Havildar C. Perumal displayed courage and initiative directing the fire of his 40 MM gun in an accurate manner resulting in the shooting down of a Pakistani Sabre Jet.

Gazette Notification: 131 Pres/65, 10.5.65

As the Indian AAA, post independence, had not been used in combat during 1948 or in 1962, this makes it the first kill by Indian AAA. The official website of Army Air Defence has the following photograph of L/60 Gun which shot down the first PAF aircraft in 1965.

However, to claim that the first Pakistan Air Force aircraft lost due to Indian AAA was indeed the one shot down by Perumal may not be correct. Herein lies a tale.

Stepping back in time to the standoff in Kutch during April 1965. Pakistan Air Force had deployed some F-86 Sabres at Mauripur and the Sabres, reinforced by a two F-104A Starfighters detachment ex Sargodha, were used for combat air patrols and reconnaissance sorties.

During one of these sorties on April 19, a two F-86 mission of No 17 Squadron, PAF was covering the move of Pak Army when they were reportedly engaged by Indian AAA, hitting one of them. The F-86 was being piloted by Flying Officer Waleed Ehsanul Karim, one of the youngest Sabre pilots known for his daredevil acts. Ehsanul Karim managed to bring his Sabre back to Badin where it was repaired. Karim carried out another sortie in the evening, a reconnaissance mission, when his aircraft developed engine trouble and plunged into the Arabian sea about 10–15 miles off the south coast of Karachi1. Though the immediate reason of the crash was engine failure, it was undoubtedly due to hit by AAA fire.

This incident – and the claim of having hit a PAF Sabre, is not found anywhere in the official accounts(or the unofficial accounts for that matter). What can be confirmed is that PAF had deployed it’s No 17 Squadron at Mauripur during April 1965 and a Battery of 103 Air Defence Regiment(TA) located at Mumbai had been moved to the Kutch and placed under command 31 Infantry Brigade during the period. The Battery was deployed in the forward zone till the raising of ‘Kilo Force’ in April 1965. There was thus Indian AAA deployed in the area where Ehsanul Karim’s aircraft was reportedly hit by AA.

The details of the AA gun/detachment which engaged the ill-fated PAF Sabre however could not be found.

Maybe it is just a claim made up by Bowman in his book but it will be of interest to know if the claim is ever verified.


  1. Martin W Bowman Cold War Jet Combat : Air to Air Jet Operation 1950-1972 Pen and Sword Books Page 78.

See also

2.  Photograph of L/60 courtesy

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