Skip to comments.How India brought down the USí supersonic man
Posted on 01/19/2012 4:23:21 AM PST by MBT ARJUN
The 1971 India-Pakistan war didnt turn out very well from the US point of view. For one particular American it went particularly bad. Chuck Yeager, the legendary test pilot and the first man to break the sound barrier, was dispatched by the US government to train Pakistani air force pilots but ended up as target practice for the Indian Air Force, and in the process kicked up a diplomatic storm in a war situation.
Yeagers presence in Pakistan was one of the surprises of the Cold War. In an article titled, The Right Stuff in the Wrong Place, by Edward C. Ingraham, a former US diplomat in Pakistan, recalls how Yeager was called to Islamabad in 1971 to head the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) a rather fanciful name for a bunch of thugs teaching other thugs how to fight.
It wasnt a terribly exciting job: All that the chief of the advisory group had to do was to teach Pakistanis how to use American military equipment without killing themselves in the process, writes Ingraham.
Among the perks Yeager enjoyed was a twin-engine Beechcraft, an airplane supplied by the Pentagon. It was his pride and joy and he often used the aircraft for transporting the US ambassador on fishing expeditions in Pakistans northwest mountains.
Yeager: Loyal Pakistani!
Yeager may have been a celebrated American icon, but heres what Ingraham says about his nonchalant attitude. We at the embassy were increasingly preoccupied with the deepening crisis (the Pakistan Army murdered more than 3,000,000 civilians in then East Pakistan, now Bangladesh). Meetings became more frequent and more tense. We were troubled by the complex questions that the conflict raised. No such doubts seemed to cross the mind of Chuck Yeager. I remember one occasion on which the ambassador asked Yeager for his assessment of how long the Pakistani forces in the East could withstand an all-out attack by India. We could hold them off for maybe a month, he replied, but beyond that we wouldnt have a chance without help from outside. It took the rest of us a moment to fathom what he was saying, not realising at first that we was West Pakistan, not the United States.
Clearly, Yeager appeared blithely indifferent to the Pakistani killing machine which was mowing down around 10,000 Bengalis daily from 1970 to 1971.
After the meeting, Ingraham requested Yeager to be be a little more even-handed in his comments. Yeager gave him a withering glance. Goddamn it, were assigned to Pakistan, he said. Whats wrong with being loyal?!
The dictator of Pakistan at the time, the one who had ordered the crackdown in the East, was a dim-witted general named Yahya Khan. Way over his head in events he couldnt begin to understand, Yahya took increasingly to brooding and drinking, writes Ingraham.
In December of 1971, with Indian supplied guerrillas applying more pressure on his beleaguered forces, Yahya decided on a last, hopeless gesture of defiance. He ordered what was left of his armed forces to attack India directly from the West. His air force roared across the border on the afternoon of December 3 to bomb Indian air bases, while his army crashed into Indias defences on the Western frontier.
Yeagers hatred for Indians was unconcealed. According to Ingraham, he spent the first hours of the war stalking the Indian embassy in Islamabad, spouting curses at Indians and assuring anyone who would listen that the Pakistani army would be in New Delhi within a week. It was the morning after the first Pakistani airstrike that Yeager began to take the war with India personally.
On the eve of their attack, the Pakistanis, realising the inevitability of a massive Indian retaliation, evacuated their planes from airfields close to the Indian border and moved them to airfields near the Iranian border.
Strangely, no one thought to warn General Yeager.
Taking aim at Yeager
The thread of this story now passes on to Admiral Arun Prakash. An aircraft carrier pilot in 1971, he was an Indian Navy lieutenant on deputation with the Indian Air Force when the war broke out.
In an article he wrote for Vayu Aerospace Review in 2007, Prakash presents a vivid account of his unexpected encounter with Yeager. As briefings for the first wave of retaliatory strikes on Pakistan were being conducted, Prakash had drawn a two-aircraft mission against the PAF base of Chaklala, located south east of Islamabad.
Flying in low under the radar, they climbed to 2000 feet as they neared the target. As Chaklala airfield came into view they scanned the runways for Pakistani fighters but were disappointed to see only two small planes. Dodging antiaircraft fire, Prakash blasted both to smithereens with 30mm cannon fire. One was Yeagers Beechcraft and the other was a Twin Otter used by Canadian UN forces.
Fishing in troubled waters
When Yeager discovered his plane was smashed, he rushed to the US embassy in Islamabad and started yelling like a deranged maniac. His voice resounding through the embassy, he said the Indian pilot not only knew exactly what he was doing but had been specifically instructed by the Indian prime minister to blast Yeagers plane. In his autobiography, he later said that it was the Indian way of giving Uncle Sam the finger.
Yeager pressured the US embassy in Pakistan into sending a top priority cable to Washington that described the incident as a deliberate affront to the American nation and recommended immediate countermeasures. Basically, a desperate and distracted Yeager was calling for the American bombing of India, something that President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were already mulling.
But, says Ingraham: I dont think we ever got an answer. With the Russians on Indias side in the conflict, the American defence establishment had its hands full. Nobody had time for Yeagers antics.
However, Ingraham says there are clues Yeager played an active role in the war. A Pakistani businessman, son of a senior general, told him excitedly that Yeager had moved into the air force base at Peshawar and was personally directing the grateful Pakistanis in deploying their fighter squadrons against the Indians. Another swore he had seen Yeager emerge from a just-landed jet fighter at the Peshawar base.
Later, in his autobiography, Yeager, the subject of Tom Wolfes much-acclaimed book The Right Stuff and a Hollywood movie, wrote a lot of nasty things about Indians, including downright lies about the IAFs performance. Among the things he wrote was the air war lasted two weeks and the Pakistanis kicked the Indians ass, scoring a three-to-one kill ratio, knocking out 102 Russian-made Indian jets and losing 34 airplanes of their own.
Beyond the fog of war
The reality is that it took the IAF just over a week to achieve complete domination of the subcontinents skies. A measure of the IAFs air supremacy was the million-man open air rallies held by the Indian prime minister in northern Indian cities, a week into the war. This couldnt have been possible if Pakistani planes were still airborne.
Sure, the IAF did lose a slightly larger number of aircraft but this was mainly because the Indians were flying a broad range of missions. Take the six Sukhoi-7 squadrons that were inducted into the IAF just a few months before the war. From the morning of December 4 until the ceasefire on December 17, these hardy fighters were responsible for the bulk of attacks by day, flying nearly 1500 offensive sorties.
Pakistani propaganda, backed up by Yeager, had claimed 34 Sukhoi-7s destroyed, but in fact just 14 were lost. Perhaps the best rebuttal to Yeagers lies is military historian Pushpindar Singh Chopras A Whale of a Fighter. He says the planes losses were commensurate with the scale of effort, if not below it. The Sukhoi-7 was said to have spawned a special breed of pilot, combat-hardened and confident of both his and his aircrafts prowess, says Chopra.
Sorties were being launched at an unprecedented rate of six per pilot per day. Yeager himself admits India flew numerous raids against Pakistani airfields with brand new Sukhoi-7 bombers being escorted in with MiG-21s.
While Pakistani pilots were obsessed with aerial combat, IAF tactics were highly sophisticated in nature, involving bomber escorts, tactical recce, ground attack and dummy runs to divert Pakistani interceptors from the main targets. Plus, the IAF had to reckon with the dozens of brand new aircraft being supplied to Pakistan by Muslim countries like Jordan, Turkey and the UAE.
Most missions flown by Indian pilots were conducted by day and at low level, with the pilots making repeated attacks on well defended targets. Indian aircraft flew into Pakistani skies thick with flak, virtually non-stop during the 14-day war. Many Bengali guerrillas later told the victorious Indian Army that it was the epic sight of battles fought over their skies by Indian air aces and the sight of Indian aircraft diving in on Pakistani positions that inspired them to fight.
Indeed, Indian historians like Chopra have painstakingly chronicled the details of virtually every sortie undertaken by the IAF and PAF and have tabulated the losses and kills on both sides to nail the outrageous lies that were peddled by the PAF and later gleefully published by Western writers.
In this backdrop, the Pakistani claim (backed by Yeager) that they won the air war is as hollow as a Chaklala swamp reed. In the Battle of Britain during World War II, the Germans lost 2000 fewer aircraft than the allies and yet the Luftwaffe lost that air war. Similarly, the IAF lost more aircraft than the PAF, but the IAF came out on top. Not even Yeagers biased testimony can take that away from Indians.
I doubt the Koranimals are getting a hint. The learning curve is flat for them now... and the rapes are only escalating:
Muslim Rape Gangs roaming Europe seeking White Victims.
This has been going on for decades, now.
Quislings is when a foreign power does your work for you, and then annexes you. The Continental Army evicted the Brits. Texans and Californians evicted the Mexicans. In Goa, your Indian brethren did what the Pakistanis are doing in Kashmir - sent, paid and armed regular servicemen in the guise of guerillas. And when the guerrilas couldn't win, the Indian Army invaded.
The way you see it? Are you a Goan? Do you see Goans fighting for independence like Tibetans? Do you see them revolting, rioting, protesting and agitating against the Indian government like in China. Goa is actually more peaceful then rest of India.
“Naked aggression abetted by local quislings.”
“local quislings” ....that would be the whole population of Goa.
Why would that make him a troll vs. someone with an opinion (pretty much like anyone else here)?
Most Indian folks I know wish their country had been more independent and truly stayed non-aligned. They unofficially sided with Russia - which, well, didn’t turn out to be the best bet. Consider first that we aligned with China which was a traditional enemy of India. Bygones.
You're right. The Continental Army, aided by the perennial British enemy, the French.
Texans and Californians evicted the Mexicans.
A settler revolt / uprising, like in Goa?
It’s very simple; when you post something calling Chuck Yeager a “military thug,” you are far from in agreement with the morals, ethics and baseline beliefs of people on FR.
Its very simple; when he posts something calling Chuck Yeager a military thug, he is far from in agreement with the morals, ethics and baseline beliefs of people on FR.
If the entire population of Goa were in revolt, the Indian Army wouldn't have needed to invade with a force of 30,000 men against the 3,000-strong Portuguese garrison. The fake Indian-staffed and -sponsored guerrilla movement would have been unnecessary. A simple boycott by the Goanese would have ended Portuguese sovereignty.
you even know where is Goa in map of India mate ?
you even know where is Goa in map of India mate ?
A simple boycott huh? You make it sound so simple. 300 years of Portuguese colonization (or for that matter European colonization of Asia and Africa) can end with one simple boycott! Who woulda thought!
I asked you a very simple question which you very wisely evaded to pile on more BS. Let me ask again...
“Do you see Goans fighting for independence like Tibetans? Do you see them revolting, rioting, protesting and agitating against the Indian government like in China.”
Also tell me why did the Portuguese government fired on unarmed civilians?
By the way here is a little tibit.... Dadra and Nagar Haveli (also under Portuguese rule) free themselves without Indian help. And after Goan liberation there was a referendum held where Goans overwhelmingly voted for a federally administered territory.
Dude, give it a rest. You have blown the lid off the BS meter. There were no “armed guerrillas” in Goa. The “protesters”, “freedom fighters”, “rebels”, “Indian agents” whatever you may call them. They were not armed. The armed Portuguese government fired and killed unarmed civilians.
The Calcutta Light Horse of the British Indian army was dispatched to destroy the Germans ship harbored in Goa.
Ah yes, India wanted to invade Diego Garcia at a time when it had close to zero heavy air or sea lift capacity, no medium-long ranger fighter bombers, no long-range missile capabilities and no nukes.
That wouldn’t even qualify for a B-grade Tom Clancy novel.
And exactly how many ‘Goanese’ fled the invasion? Most of the Goans I know seem to be a happy bunch.
Sure the article is loaded with nationalistic bravado, but what happened in Bangladesh was a genocide which saw almost 3 million people get killed.
Troll has typically meant someone at FR with a liberal agenda hiding under an alias, just waiting to cause trouble. Secondly, we do not always believe in (word for word) everything we post (not saying this is/isn’t the case here).
As far as the specific posting, if Mahatma Ghandi was teaching Canadians how to bomb the U.S., I’d have considered him in a less than favorable light. The domino theory / effect forced us to chose some less than solid partners. Does that make Chuck Yeager a thug or even less of a hero? Not to me. It does mean he was assigned to protect a people that have, IMO, largely turned out to be a feckless ally. India would have been a better partner for the U.S. and vice versa - the chips didn’t fall that way. There will still be some bad blood for some time - not unexpected.
Nothing in what was posted deserved a personal attack or the tag of troll. There’s a big difference between simple and simplistic.
Chuck Yeager wasnt protecting Pakistan, he was assisting a regime that was carrying out mass genocide of Bengalis in East Pakistan. And as the article VERY CORRECTLY pointed out:
“Clearly, Yeager appeared blithely indifferent to the Pakistani killing machine which was mowing down around 10,000 Bengalis daily from 1970 to 1971.”
It was not simply a matter of chips not falling the right way. Chuck Yeager and Nixon-Kissinger made a clear choice to be a partner to a criminal regime in their heinous act. And till date their only defense is their righteous arrogance.
Going face to face against India would have been ugly even for US. Thank God, it never happened. Everything turned out well actually....India won the war, the genocide was stopped, Bangladesh got their independence, Pakistan's Islamic war machine was destroyed...... and Chuck Yeager came back home with a little hurt ego. Wasn't all too bad.
“Yeager is an old school fighter pilot that raised a little hell when things didn't go his way... That is just fighter pilots in general.”
He did raise some hell.... not with his jet but with some angry words and breast beating. He was after all the coach of the PAF team and Indians were buzzing all over Pakistani airspace kicking butt. Poor Chuck Yeager even lost his own plane to add insult to injury.
That’s one way to put it. I’m not sure supporting Pak was an option at that moment. IMO, the original sin was choosing China which has complicated a wide variety of issues ever since. If Kissinger had seen India’s potential and opened that country the way he supposedly opened China, he’d deserve the reputation of foreign policy genius. By starting with China, it’s just been decades of playing out a bad hand.
What part of the article is BS propaganda and how so?
Nope its not. Firstly it is “Arjun” and not “Argun”. And “Arjun” is a warrior from the epic Mahabharata and the tank is named after him.
And MBT ARJUN is a troll why?
I find it very hard to believe than any special strike was dreamed up to destroy a C-12. If I'm planning on striking an airfield, I'm going after all aircraft, hangars, fuel tanks, and runway intersections that I can get in my sights.
Still sounds like a choice to me! It wasn’t like US HAD TO support Pakistan in there genocide and there was no way around it. Obviously it was a political choice and a bad one. Only difference is, people who made those choices either try to defend it with righteous arrogance or lay the guilt on India or forward some silly rationale. Very predictable responses.
When did India need/ask the US help for any fight?
India sent 2 million solider to fight WW1 and WW2 and Indian soldiers fought on all fronts. How many soldiers did France sent to fight?
” ...Yeager's stint tells us something about how secular Pakistan was during the period. Khan was a Shiite and a known hard drinker”
Yeah Pakistan was secular (and of course India was not) And why was Pak secular? Because Yahya Khan the dictator of Pakistan, the man in power allowed himself to drink alcohol. That shows how secular Pakistan was! Never mind the genocide of 3 million of their own people! That's just a minor niggle. /sarc
“During the 1970’s, India came close to invading the British base at Diego Garcia ...... so as to annex it.”
This one had gotta take the cake! I have never ever heard more BS on FR till date.
Yep, that’s a load of hot air-Yeager’s plane was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Would have ben pretty difficult for a rather weak air force (back then) to expend its energy to find a single Beechcraft.
It is very easy to say after the fact that "we meant to hit Yeager's plane on the ground"... The truth is probably a lot closer to "There is an airplane on the ground and there is nothing up here to shoot at so I'm going to destroy the one on the ground."
Unfortunately, your reply to me was almost unreadable. You might try the old read twice, post once method. It will help you get your point across...
So according to you, Indian naval pilots should have had Shot down much decorated american pilot ??? Na!!!Why would they do that when they destroyed his plane and sent the memo to washington -That Indians are not red Indians ,they can let you pay dearly .Chuck was furios the way Indian naval pilots targeted his plane .
I must salute that Indian pilot Commander Arun Prakash who made Yeager to duck down in a bunker .
Diego Garcia: Mate you seem to know things about the Indian “annexation” wish-list that we haven’t even heard of!!! You must, I mean MUST have access to some great secret files archive or you believe everything you read on the internet. Yes, there are internet sites that claim they have invented a method that enables pigs to Fly!!! And no, I don’t mean in an aeroplane.
Goa: I think you have long left your comfort zone on this one when you compare it to Tibet. India liberated Goa from a foreign power where the administration did not include people who were “Goanese”, then granted the people a democratic system which continues to flourish. In Tibet, China replaced the existing, home-grown leadership system with one from the outside - the Chinese one. In fact, in that case, they didn’t liberate the people but subjugated them. That subjugation continues today with no real representative elections and frequent extra-judicial and judicial killings and executions.
So please....I respect your views on a wide range of subjects as many others do on the forum here but I recommend that you either research your claims better in order to substantiate them or stay away from making claims when you cannot.
I have no clue whether India has a Freedom of Information Act, but I suspect things like this could eventually be declassified in the fullness of time, if only because future bureaucrats need to give the eggheads one last look before the documents are thrown into the trash.
After a bit of looking, I found the mention of the operation on World Affairs Board. The poster is a former Indian officer whose father was involved in the prep work for the operation. He speculates that the Soviet Navy would have run interference:
During Indira Gandhi's time, we had an airborne operation half way towards the island to capture it, but was called back. But better sense prevaled and an incident against the US was avoided.
These are one of those "for your eyes only" type things. All I know is that one phase was already underway when they were called back. My fathers unit (a field ambulance unit), was packed and on the tarmac waiting for their turn to take off.It was one of those cold war era incidents, as Indo-US relations were not cordial. It would have been a bde level op as the air lift capability of IAF during that time was'nt beyond bde level, including the supporting arms, and rear echlons.
But I guess such an operation would have been planned in conjunction with Soviet naval support. India really did'nt have the capability to take on a superpower so far away from home on its own. I'm just guessing, as no one really talks about an aborted baby. We could have managed a "Falklands op" but not against a superpower with the worlds largest and most powerful navy.
Here they are a Corps asset. Sir, you have an Engr bn to support a Bde, while we have a Engr bn for a div. They would have been given whole fd amb bn, considering likely cas rate and distance from home base.
Sir, as I keep saying, it would have been a Cold war era thing. Russians wanting to deny the control of the Indian Ocean to the US, who would help them? India. Lets just be happy that it was aborted...and not carried through.
As to Goa, from a non-Indian perspective, it comes across as a mild version of what Imperial Japan did in Asia. In a manner of speaking, Imperial Japan "liberated" its Asian neighbors from the European powers and that was why so many Indian luminaries were in Japan's pocket during and after WWII, when the war crimes trials were under way. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that India is some kind of moral pariah for conquering Goa. Every country in the world was built on armed conquest at some point in its history. What I am pointing out is merely that India's claim to being a non-aggressive or -expansionist country is false.
Please support your facts on the basis of creadible link and proof.
By the way, I found this interesting little excerpt from an Indian web commentator:
Though it is not the main issue at stake (at least, for this nation and for this writer), the strategic dimension to this disput cannot be ignored either. India, over the years, has come to regard itself as the regional superpower in the entire South Asian region, with interests ranging from the Karzai setup in Afghanistan to fighting pirates off the coast of Yemen to stemming the flow of Black Money from (offshore accounts in) Mauritius. India’s status as a regional superpower has, more or less, come to be accepted by the other powers involved, be they China or Sri Lanka or even Pakistan. It is in this light that India’s (justified) claim for permanent membership of the security council must be viewed, and it is also in this light that the presence of an alien military establishment in Diego Garcia has simply become intolerable.
Part VI - A Festering Sore
The problem with this issue - as with other issues of this nature - is that if they are left unresolved, they may turn into open sores (on the body politic of Indo American relationship). This issue first came into public consciousness in 1974 / 75, when Indira Gandhi was at the pinnacle of power, and was the unchallenged ruler of this nation. There is no reason why this issue should not have been sorted out by now, almost four decades later, given a little goodwill even if the political will was lacking... Diego Garcia must be regarded as a burden of history; and there is no reason why this burden should be passed onto our children (and grandchildren). Surely, they are carrying enough burdens already, there is no reason we should add to the load their (immature) shoulders already have to bear.
Part VII - War is Unthinkable!
Needless to say, war is unthinkable! No doubt, it would be a simple matter to just “nuke” Diego Garcia, and send it to the bottom of the Indian Ocean forever... but, no right minded person would even contemplate such a (reckless) course of action. Pointless to add, we have all been there before - remember “Pearl Harbour” anyone?! No doubt, India enjoys (unquestioned) military supremacy in the South Asian region, but its military strength could - and should - be leveraged in a more creative manner. Besides, there is a broad consensus emerging in this nation that economic / infrastructural development must be the need of the hour, and this nation needs to refrain from any (and all) military adventures till its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020 has been realised.
Here’s to hoping that his views are not representative of Indian thinking on territorial issues.
The good thing is that we are now becoming allied with the right country. BHO has not done as much as Bush did for this but I had no expectations that he would. At least he has not done damage here as he’s done elsewhere. If both sides keep their eyes on the prize, the US-India relationship is a 100 year friendship in the making.
I appreciate your sentiments but I don't quite share your enthusiasm. Its not that I am against an alliance with the US. Its just that my optimism about US-India alliance is much more tempered. And there are several reasons why I believe US-India alliance is a non-starter. During Bush there was enormous naive excitement among Indians and Indian media about an emerging strategic alliance because of many shared values and global concerns especially because of events post 9/11 and emergence of Chinese economic rise.
As a person of Indian origin I have lived in US long enough to know that excitement is silly and naive. I am not disillusioned, I am just being realistic. Fact number one is there is absolutely no awareness among general American public or media about the value and importance of India either strategical or economically. In fact the mention of India among public and media (especially during election campaigns) conjures a very negative image, that of “outsourcing” and “job loss”, not that of a Strategic ally. When you talk about UK everyone already knows about the “Special Relationship”. US politicians don't have to go out and rediscover UK each time they get elected like they have to do with India. Talking about India's importance.....India already has a larger navy then UK....(and its not even worth comparing land forces). In this decade India will go past Japan from being 4th largest GDP(PPP) to third largest (at $4 trillion, nearly twice that of UK). And in three more years India will be the 4th country in the world to send a man to space.
Except for a handful of knowledgeable people, most American policy makers are absolutely clueless about India. They still look at India through an India-Pakistan prism and talk about “balanced relationship”..... a sign of how clueless America is. Its not Obama or the democrats but republicans too....in fact more so. Conservative republicans still harbor a flawed cold war perspective on India..... as quite event on this thread and many others. And democrats have other rants against India.
In other words, where there is not total ignorance about India there is actually a huge negative support base against India. And that is not likely to in another Presidential election.
I agree it’s not all that it could be and I agree it’s not a generally held belief. That said, the groundwork is being laid for the relationship to grow, Pakistan has moved from ally to royal pain in the ass, and I think we’re close to a tipping point. Just my 2c on it - but I have high hopes.
Pakistan has been a $10 billion dollar investment for the US. US cannot afford to dump their investment and their decade old alliance no matter how bad it gets with Pakistan. This hasnt been the first tipping point and wont certainly be the last. US-Pak alliance will carry on and that alone is enough reason for India to hold back from a full-on strategic alliance with US.