Indian Air Force Losses in the 1971 War.

by P V S Jagan Mohan


The Indian Air Force fought on two fronts during the 1971 War. Employing nearly 600 Combat aircraft ranging from New MiG-21 and Sukhoi-7s to the Vintage Harvards and Vampires, the IAF flew nearly 7500 Sorties during the duration of the war. The Following is the list of Losses compiled by us through Various Sources published ever since. You will come up with some startling figures when you go through them, like finding out that 23 aircraft were lost in a matter of two days on both the fronts, or the High number of Hunter Losses.  A surprising trend is the increase in attrition of the Canberra .  The Losses are given first for the Eastern Sector and then for the Western Sector. Some of the Articles in the 71 War Section give details of the losses. The Figures given below were intially estimated as 61, However have been revised to 75 after the release of the Times of India's Official History of the 1971 War. For the sake of completeness, I have included figures of Army and Naval Aircraft losses also.

A Typewise Breakup is given as follows:

Figures in parenthesis are operational accidents.

TYPE EAST WEST TOTAL
MiG-21 2 6 (2) 8
Sukhoi -7 1 18(1) 19
Hunter 12 (3) 11(2) 23
Canberra 1 4 (1) 5
Gnat - 3 (2) 3
Mystere IVa - 5 (2) 5
HF-24 - 4
Vampire - 1
Alize (Navy) - 1
Dakota 1 (1) - 1
AOP (Army) - 1
Helicopters 2 (2) 2 (1) 4
TOTAL 19 (6) 56 (11) 75 (17)

The Following Table gives us the causes to which the aircraft were lost. 50% can clearly be attributed to Ground Fire, in form of AAA Artillery and Small Arms fire. 30 % to Air Combat defences of the PAF. 2 % to PAF Air Raids and Accidents accounted for a massive 22%. 

Type of Loss East West Total % age
Anti Aircraft /Ground Fire 10 26 36 48 %
Air to Air Combat 3 15 18 30 %
Destroyed on Ground - 2 2 2 %
Undetermined (Possible AAC) - 2 2 1 %
Accidents. 6 11 17 22 %
TOTAL 19 56 75  

 

DETAILS OF AIRCRAFT LOSSES IN THE EASTERN AND WESTERN SECTORS 1971.
Note: Rows in Grey background are Operational Accidents.

EASTERN SECTOR

Date

Aircraft

Sqn

Name of the Pilot

S.No Location

Rem

Fate

04-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

221

Sqn Ldr V. Bhutani

. Tejgaon

SD AAA Fire. Ejected,

POW *

04-Dec-71

Hunter

37

Sqn Ldr S B Samanta

BA252 Tejgaon SD AAA Fire or F-86

killed

04-Dec-71

Hunter

37

Fg Off S G Khonde

BA266 Tejgaon SD AAA Fire ?

killed

04-Dec-71

Hunter

14

Sqn Ldr K D Mehra

. Tejgaon

SD F-86 0800 Hrs

Eject

04-Dec-71

Hunter

14

Flt Lt K C Tremenhere

. Tejgaon

SD F-86 (Sqn Ldr Dilawar)

POW *

04-Dec-71

Hunter

7

Flt Lt A R Da Costa

BA295 Lal Munir Hat

SD AAA Cr in Indian Territory

killed

04-Dec-71

Hunter

7

Sqn Ldr S K Gupta

BA287 BaghdograAFB Dam AAA Fire Ejected at base

Eject

06-Dec-71

MiG-21

4

Sqn Ldr Rao

. Gauhati

AAA Fire - Ran out of fuel

Eject

07-Dec-71

Hunter

-

-

. Dum Dum AFB Dam AAA Fire Ejected at base

Eject

10-Dec-71

Hunter

14

Sqn Ldr R C Sachdeva

BA275 Hilli Region SD AAA

killed

10-Dec-71

Hunter

-

-

. Lal Munir Hat SD AAA  Pt Rescued in EP

Eject

10-Dec-71

Hunter

-

-

. CoochBiharAF Dest in Crash Landing

Safe

11-Dec-71

Mil Mi-4

-

- . Aijal Onboard fire Aijal from Agartala Safe
12-Dec-71

MiG-21

28

Sqn Ldr P.S.Gill

. Agartala

SD AAA Ejected at EP

Eject

12-Dec-71

Hunter

-

-

. HashimaraAFB Crashed after TO

Safe

12-Dec-71

Hunter

14

-

. JessoreAFB Dest in Crash Landing

Safe

15-Dec-71

Canberra

16

Fg Off B R E Wilson(Pt) . Tejgaon SD AAA Flt Lt R B Mehta (Nav) killed

15-Dec-71

Mil Mi-4

-

- . Agartala Trasmission Failure Cr Agartala Safe

17-Dec-71

Dakota

43

Flt Lt J D'Souza + Five BJ662 Mechuka Accident killed
Grand losses   19 Known Losses (6 Operational Accidents)
Unattributed Pilots:
Hunter (5 ) : Flt Lt L H Dixon (Date Reason Not Known)
Mi-4 (2 ) : None Available

 

WESTERN SECTOR
Date Aircraft

Sqn

Name of the Aircrew S.No Location Remarks Fate

04-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

101

Flt Lt J Rishi B 899 AdampurAFB Tyreburst on TO. Crashed killed

04-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

222

Flt Lt H V Singh B 849 Risalawala SD F-6 (Flt Lt Latif) killed

04-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

222

Flt Lt P N Saksena . - AAA fire Counter Air Mission Eject

04-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

101

Flt Lt Gurdip Singh . Chamb AAA Dam Ejected Tac Supp Eject

04-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

108

Flt Lt D R Natu B 854 Indian terr AAA Dam Ejected Pt safe Eject

04-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

32

Flt Lt M S Grewal . Shorkot AFB SD AAA   1400 Hrs POW

04-Dec-71

Hunter

-

- - - AAA Fire CrL at BAse ?

04-Dec-71

Hunter

27

Fg Off V Chati A 479 Mianwali SD F-6 (Fg Off Qazi Javed) POW

04-Dec-71

Hunter

20

Flt Lt K P Muralidharan A 462 N  Peshawar SD F-86 (F/O S B Mirza) killed

04-Dec-71

Hunter

27

Fg Off S Tyagi A 490 Murid AFB SD F-86 (F/Lt Mujahid ) killed

04-Dec-71

HF-24

220

Flt Lt P V Apte D1193 Nayachor SD AAA killed

04-Dec-71

HF-24

220

Flt Lt J L Bhargava . Nayachor SD AAA   POW

04-Dec-71

Canberra

JBCU

Flt Lt L M Sasoon (Pt)
Flt Lt R M Advani (Nav)
IF916 Sargodha SD MirageIII (F/O Naeem Ata) killed

05-Dec-71

Canberra

5

Flt Lt S K Goswami (Pt)
Flt Lt S C Mahajan (Nav)
IF960 /
IF899
. SD AAA Night of 4/5 Dec killed

05-Dec-71

Alloutte

-

- - SrinagarAFS SD F-86? Pts Injured Safe

05-Dec-71

Mystere

3

Flt Lt A V Pethia IA 954 Bhawalnagar SD AAA   0715 Hrs POW

05-Dec-71

Hunter

20

Sqn Ldr J M Mistry A1014 Sakesar SD MirageIIIs (Fg Off Safdar) killed

05-Dec-71

Hunter

27

Flt Lt G S Rai A 482 Sakesar SD F-6 (W/C S Hatmi)1235 Hrs killed

05-Dec-71

Hunter

27

Fg Off K L Malkani A 488 Sakesar SD F-6 (F/O S Raza ) 1235 Hrs killed

05-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

32

Flt Lt V V Tambey B 839 Shorkot AFB SD AAA   1350 Hrs killed

05-Dec-71

MiG-21

29

Flt Lt Harish Singhji C 764 Suleimanke SD AAA   1530 Hrs POW

05-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

26

Sqn Ldr D S Jafa B 891 E of Lahore SD AAA   1555 Hrs POW

05-Dec-71

Canberra

35

Flt Lt S C Sandal (Pt)
Flt Lt K S Nanda (Nav)
IF923 Sargodha SD AAA killed

06-Dec-71

Gnat

-

- - Uttarlai AF WO during Landing Safe

06-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

222

Fg Off K C Kuruvilla B 854 JassarBridge SD AAA 1025 Hrs. POW

06-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

101

Flt Lt V K Wahi B 868 . SD ,possibly by F-86. killed

06-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

101

Flt Lt J Bhattacharya . Chamb SD 1225 Hrs. Eject

06-Dec-71

Mystere

3

. . Haveli Engine Failure Eject

07-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

26

Sqn Ldr Jiwa Singh B 902 . SD F-6 (Fg Off Atiq Sufi) killed

07-Dec-71

Gnat

9

Fg Off M M Singh . . Cr on Ferry flight lost control. killed

08-Dec-71

MiG-21

45

Sqn Ldr Denzil Keelor . Chamb SD AAA   Eject

08-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

TACDE

Flt Lt R G Kadam B 910 Risalawala SD F-86 (W/C M H Hashmi) killed

08-Dec-71

Hunter

7

Wg Cdr B A Coelho BA329 Suleimanke SD AAA   1200 Hrs Hasilpur POW

08-Dec-71

Mystere

3

. . Haveli SD AAA Amruka Eject

09-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

32

Flt Lt N Shanker B 860 NW Amritsar SD AAA killed

09-Dec-71

HF-24

10

Sqn Ldr A V Kamat BD859 Hyderabad. SD AAA at Kotri, POW

10-Dec-71

Hunter

27

Sqn Ldr M K Jain A 938 Chamb SD AAA   killed

10-Dec-71

Alize

310

Lt Cdr Ashok Roy (Pt)
Lt H S Sirohi (Obs)
Acmn O Vijayan (TG)
IN203 Arabian Sea. SD F-104 (W/C Arif Iqbal) killed

10-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

26

Flt Lt Dilip Parulkar . Zafarwal SD AAA   POW

10-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

108

Flt Lt S K Chibber B 798 Mdi Sdiqganj SD AAA   0915  Hrs killed

11-Dec-71

Alloutte

114HU

Sqn Ldr K L Bajaj Z 366 Kashmir Accident during CaseEvac killed

11-Dec-71

MiG-21

1

Flt Lt A B Dhavle C1107 Adampur Accident. SD by a MiG-21 killed

11-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

26

Flt Lt K K Mohan B 780 Shakargarh SD F-86 (Wg Cdr Bhukhari) killed

11-Dec-71

Canberra

5

Flt Lt R D Naithani (Pt)
Flt Lt G Theophilus (Nav)
Flt Lt M Purohit (Nav)
IF1024 35 Miles NE of Bikaner SD?? No Corresponding PAF claim found. could be AA or Disorientation. was attacking Lodharan RS. killed

11-Dec-71

HF-24

10

Sqn Ldr Mickey Jatar . Uttarlai AFB Strafed on Ground at by F-104 OK

12-Dec-71

MiG-21

47

Fg Off P K Sahu C 603 Palam AFB Accident. Undershot Runway. killed

13-Dec-71

Mystere

3

Sqn Ldr J D Kumar IA1331 Fazilka SD AAA   killed

13-Dec-71

MiG-21

47

Wg Cdr H S Gill C 705 Badin SD AAA 1635 Hrs killed

14-Dec-71

Gnat

18

Fg Off N S Sekhon E 257 Srinagar SD F-86(F/O SB Mirza)0750 Hr killed

14-Dec-71

Krishak

660

Capt P K Gaur N 965 Shakargarh SD F-86(S/L S Gauhar)1610 Hr killed

15-Dec-71

Vampire

121

---

. Srinagar Destroyed on Ground N.A

16-Dec-71

Sukhoi-7

26

Flt Lt T S Danadoss B 889 Narowal RS SD AAA killed

17-Dec-71

MiG-21

29

Flt Lt Tejwant Singh C 716 Pasrur SD F-86 (F/L Maqsood Amir) POW

17-Dec-71

Mystere

3

. . Haveli Engine Flame out. Eject
Grand losses   54 Known Losses (Incl  9 Accident Losses) + 2 Unlisted Hunter (Accident) losses.
Othere Unattributed Pilots:

Mysteres (3 ) : Sqn Ldr Dass, Sqn Ldr Anukul
Gnat (1 ) : None
Hunter (3 ) : None

Alloutte(1 ) : None

Legend:

AFB: Air Force Base
AAA : Anti Aircraft Artillery
JBCU : Jet Bomber Conversion Unit
TACDE: Tactical Air Combat Devp Est.
POW: Prisoner of War
HU : Helicopter Unit
SD  : Shot Down
Obs :Observer
Pt   : Pilot
Nav: Navigator
TG:Telegraphist

Notes:

1. Entries marked with "?" in the remarks column are not confirmed by secondary sources.

Acknowledgements:

Special Thanks to  VP, Tomas Polak of Czechoslavakia , The officers of the College of Air Warfare, Secunderabad, Rupak Chattopadhyay, Phil Camp , Simon Watson, The Indian Air Force Museum , Times of India group and Mr. Pushpindar Singh Chopra.

Bibliography:

Government of India, Official History of the 1971 India-Pakistan War, Publications Division.
P C Lal, My Years with the IAF, Lancer Publications 1986.
K K Nayar, Amar Jawan, India Book House 1997.
Fricker John,Postmortem of an Air War, Air Enthusiast, May 1972.
Pushpindar Singh, Journal of an Air War, Air Enthusiast, Apr 1972.
Pushpindar Singh, The Battle Axes No 7 Sqn IAF, 1942-92, ??
No. 20 Sqn War Diary, Lightning Strikes , Unpublished.


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