The IAF Chat III
'We believe the Pakistani PM. He is quite a credible person'
Even though hostilities in the Kargil heights appear to have subsided, discussions on the military operations will continue for a long time. Here is the transcript of the third of the IAF Chats, with Group Captain D N Ganesh, as illuminating as ever.
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:54 IST)
Good Evening! Sorry for being late. I hope you got the message I posted on the way here.
Anit C (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:33 IST)
It is reported that the Pak intrusion started in November 1998. Why did the government delay its operations?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:54 IST)
Amit C: Frankly, I don't know if we knew about the intrusions in November.
mahachandar (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:43 IST)
Yes. This is a total surrender by Pakistan and we have also captured Tiger Hill. All credit must go to our Great Soldiers.
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:56 IST)
mahachandar: I would advise a bit of caution. I'll believe it when I see it. Thank you for the credit, though.
Neelakshi (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:58 IST)
sir do you think today's agreement was anything more than just a way of assuring the sanction of the IMF loan by Pakistan?
sriram (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:51 IST)
Umm, I think Clinton used a lot more leverage than that loan.. The principal negative point was the presence of the Taliban backed factions (anti-US)
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:58 IST)
Neelakshi and Sreeram: Clinton may use the IMF loan if nothing happens on the LoC. It is a million dollar question.
pradeep (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:54 IST)
Sir, why can't the military prevail upon the traitors within to solve our problems? Why can't you in connivance with the army prevail upon the jokers of our country to abrogate Article 370 to uproot the perennial problems our country is confronted with? Enough is enough. We have to first deal with the illiterate jokers who have given birth to this Article 370 and have also kept this issue alive on purpose. Can the war be won at places when the local Muslim population which swears allegiance to bloody rogues I mean the bloody Pakis?
Is it not the opportune time for the saviours I mean you all generate a mass hysteria to destroy Article 370 once and for all and let the retired military and paramilitary personnel with their families camp in Kashmir the holy abode of Lord Shiva. We the civilians then follow the suit or else tell these illiterate jokers I mean these politicians to go to the battle front to fight the jokers across. Dr Pradeep Vyas, cardiologist.
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:1 IST)
Pradeep: If we did all that you suggested to our government, we would probably be in the shape Pakistan is today.
Neelakshi (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:55 IST)
sir congratulations on the capture of Tiger Hill.
Patriot (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:56 IST)
Sir, if we do not have a settlement soon, and are forced to cross the LoC and we can, I believe, successfully, would we again have to go back under pressure?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:3 IST)
Neelakshi: Thank you! ///Patriot: If at any time we had to cross the LoC, I think we would be successful. In any case, we wil cross only on extreme provocation, so I do not see anyone forcing us back.
aniruddhas (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:57 IST)
sir, can you enlighten us a bit more about these round the clock operations?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:7 IST)
aniruddhas: The phrase "round-the-clock" does not imply a continuous attack lasting for hours. It implies attacks made at random over a 24 hour period. At night, these are bombing attacks, and we have been fairly accurate. Of course, it helps when the enemy fires at you, because you see his location clearly at night.
Neelakshi (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:1 IST)
sir, but in case of a 'stage by stage' withdrawal isn't it possible that Pak might go back on its word?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:11 IST)
neelakshi: We believe the Pakistani PM. He is quite a credible person, compared to the rest. The problem is whether he can convince his country, which seems doubtful. At the moment, the IMF loan would be a somewhat lesser priority.
sriram (Mon Jul 5 1999 4:58 IST)
Ganeshji: What lessons have been learnt by our forces in this conflict ?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:13 IST)
sriram: Regarding the lessons learnt, the most important one is to thump the table to make sure that you get the equipment you need in a reasonable time. That is, really, the only important lesson.
aniruddhas (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:2 IST)
Sir please be kind enough to answer this query of mine: Why make our boys climb for days rather than use airborne troops?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:15 IST)
aniruddhas: Paradropping would be suicidal in this kind of terrain.
sriram (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:4 IST)
Group Captain: Have the IAF actually trained (in peacetime) in this type of terrain? It would be a risky thing to do, even in peacetime ??
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:17 IST)
sriram: Regarding training, yes. However, it is not so dangerous when people are not shooting at you. But it still requires a lot of skill.
aniruddhas (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:11 IST)
sir , on an unbiased level how do you compare Pak pilots with us and overall how do our pilots fare against the Israelis, who are the best in the world?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:26 IST)
anirudhas: I don't know about the Israeli pilots being the best in the world, but they certainly have the most realistic practise. The PAF is quite good, and the pilots are well trained and motivated. But they are a shade less than the IAF because of training. They have the advantage of better funding for their equipment. Wherever the IAF and PAF pilots have served together like in Iraq and the US, we have found that while they are good at handling advanced equipment, we are better at achieving results even with average equipment.
anisha (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:25 IST)
Sir You have lost a couple of aircraft outside the Kargil zone. What is the cause for this ? Are these aircraft very old and not functioning properly or are the pilots nervous because of war phobia and not able to control the aircraft? It is really amazing that the IAF is losing aircraft at such rate??
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:31 IST)
anisha: You are right, we have lost a number of aircraft in the last two months, not connected with the Kargil operations. The cause of these accidents are being investigated, but are most likely technical defects. It is premature to speculate on the cause, but it is certainly not any kind of "phobia" because of the Kargil crisis. In fact, our other pilots from the rest of the country are clamouring for a chance to join the action, stating that the present lot of pilots have had their share.
ani (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:24 IST)
Sir, how important is the role of choppers in this kind of terrain given the fact that we do not have the likes of the Apache choppers?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:44 IST)
ani: Regarding choppers, while the Apache is supposed to be the best attack chopper in the world, in Kosovo a hundred of them stayed in Greece and entered Kosovo only after the fighting! The various factors in this case goes beyond the type of helicopter. The MI-17 is a good helicopter and is still being used there, even in an armed role at night.
aniruddhas (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:26 IST)
sir, does the air force need an aircraft like the A-10 which would be ideal in this region?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:47 IST)
anirudhas: The A-10 would be a misfit in this terrain, as all these aircraft are designed for sea level or close to it. In comparison, the MiG and the Mirages have a much better reserve of power which enables them to operate at this altitude. Secondly, we do not need to consult the Russians (or anyone else) on tactics, and that is not a boast. Our instructors regularly go abroad on training assignment for other air forces. Thirdly, there is one low quality Pakistani radar near the Line of Control, but it is not very effective.
jayom (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:34 IST)
sir please send our heartily congratulations to our Indian forces. They are really great and are setting examples for future generations. I wish them the best of luck. I can't do anything sitting here in Dubai but can only pray and help them a bit financially. Can you please write me the address for sending the money to our jawans?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:50 IST)
jayom: Please contact our website, a link will be provided on from the Rediff Kargil section within 24 hours (I hope).
VIVEK (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:48 IST)
sir can we predict how many more days will all this last?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:51 IST)
vivek: no (on how long the war will take).
aniruddhas (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:48 IST)
sir, please tell us a bit about the strength of the Pak air force?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:53 IST)
anirudhas: The PAF has 24 fighter squadrons, of which only four or five are close to modern. We have almost double that number, with 60 per cent state of the art, and on the increase.
aniruddhas (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:45 IST)
sir, in this battle I feel that India has the quantity and Pak the quality but as history has shown -- the Yom Kippur war --quality always excels. Is that a danger for us?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:56 IST)
anirudhas: What quality are you talking about? Yes, Pakistani troops are well equipped, but their advantage is mainly due to their position, which is difficult to attack. You must remember that an army attacking a well defended position normally suffers twice the number of casualties as the defenders.
Pravin (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:53 IST)
Sir, Even though China is in favour of India in the present Kargil crisis, why is it supplying F-7 fighter planes to Pak at this juncture? What is India's reply to this report? Has the Indian air force got any powerful planes and missiles to fight against this Pak move? Also tell me sir, really, is this Kargil war initiated by the Pak army or Sharief ? Is Sharief capable of nullifying the army power in Pak?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 6:0 IST)
Pravin: The Chinese Super-7 deal is at least four to five years old. The Super-7 is a derivative of the MiG-21, and China actually does not want to develop it, favouring the FC-1 which is a much better design. However, Pakistan can afford only the Super-7, and so has convinced China to produce a limited quantity. As an aircraft, it will be less capable than the MiG-21 (upgraded).
aniruddhas (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:59 IST)
sir I asked you this question the last time as well: Which aircraft would you rather fly if your country went to war?
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 6:1 IST)
anirudhas: A MiG-27, though it is a personal choice.
SHASHANK (Mon Jul 5 1999 5:59 IST)
Respected Group Captain Ganesh: I would like to know why we are relying on MiG-21s and not using our most sophisticated MiG-29s.
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 6:3 IST)
Shashank: Incidentally, the MiG-21 have been getting very good results in bombing, even at night. The MiG-29 is basically an air combat aircraft used for escorts and air defence.
Group Captain D N Ganesh (Mon Jul 5 1999 6:4 IST)
Good Bye everybody. Please send any questions to . Hope we have a better connection next time. See you!