Blast from the past: PAF F-16 Shoot down IAF UAV – 7 June 2002

Exactly 12 years ago, the same day an F-16B Sr# 83-605 from No.9 MultiRole Sqn shot down Indian Air Force Searcher-II UAV near Lahore. The Indian AF UAV was on a spying mission over Lahore. Such mission was of vital importance to Indian AF as both sides were in high tension on border and gathering any information behind enemy lines may have been game changer.

During the Operational Sentinel, which lasted from December 2001 to end October 2002, PAF remained high alert and distributed its fighting elements across various Forward Operating Air Bases (FOBs) and air fields and conducted Combat Air Patrol (CAP) missions across Pakistan.

During one similar CAP mission, two IAF UAVs were spotted near Lahore, both bogies took off from airfield in Jammu. Hot scramble was initiated from two locations Rafiqui Air Base, Shorkot and Minhas Air Base, Kamra. In the initial scramble by two Mirages and two F-7s; Searcher-II drones with low-radar and low-visual/IR signal were not spotted. Later an F-16B spotted the low level flying UAV at about at 13,000 ft. Sqn Ldr Zulfiqar Ayub and Sqn Ldr Afzal Aman flying in the F-16 opted for AIM-9L heat seeking missile for the kill. The wreckage fell off at the Dogran Kalan village, South-West of Lahore.

According to ACM Mushaf Ali Mir, CAS PAF’s statement ” The UAV was spotted by the mobile observation units when it crossed into Pakistani territory and was immediately gunned down.” 

Today the wreckage of this UAV is placed outside No.9 Sqn Office and Mushaf Air Base, Sargodha history museum marking a unique encounter of a supersonic fighter aircraft with UAV.

wreckage_indian_air_force_uav_shot_by_paf_f-16

Wreckage of Indian Air Force UAV placed in a C-130 hangar at PAF base PAF Chakala on 10th June,2002 for press conference.

Wreckage of IAF UAV showing marking of Isreali Aircraft Industries. The UAV was wearing no-marking, and was believed to be put in service with Indian AF in a 'hurry'.

Wreckage of IAF UAV showing marking of Isreali Aircraft Industries. The UAV was wearing no-marking, and was believed to be put in service with Indian AF in a ‘hurry’.

Wng Cdr(then Sqn Ldr) 'sidewinder'  Zulfiqar shot down IAF UAV du

Wng Cdr(then Sqn Ldr) ‘Sidewinder’ Zulfiqar; the pilot who shot down IAF UAV on that Night.

File photo of F-16B Sr # 83605 parked in shade during an Multi-national Exercise with Turkish Air Force.

File photo of F-16B Sr # 83605 (the aircraft that shot down UAV) seen parked in shade during an Multi-national Exercise with Turkish Air Force.