Pakistani forces opened fire and hit an AN-32 transport aircraft carrying Air Marshal V K Bhatia, air officer commanding-in-chief Western Air Command, in the last week of February, defence sources said.
The aircraft was hit in the Drass-Kargil sector, causing minor damage, they said.
The pilot manoeuvred the aircraft to land safely at the Leh air base, they added.
Chief of air staff Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy has ordered a court of inquiry, which is being led by Air Marshal M S Sekhon.
The government took a serious view of the incident, which had the potential of escalating the Indo-Pak stand off, and dispatched chief of army staff General S Padmanabhan to the Kashmir valley the next day to review the situation.
It was not clear what hit the aircraft, which was flying low, close to the LoC. The AN-32s on their normal Srinagar-Leh run fly at an altitude of more than 8000 metres and keep 15-20 km away from the Line of Control.
According to experts, it was probably small arms fire or medium guns that hit the aircraft, as any hit by shoulder-fired Stinger missiles would have downed it.
During 'Operation Vijay' in 1999, Pakistani forces had downed three IAF aircraft -- a Mig-21, a MI-17 and a Canberra reconnaissance aircraft -- all by using the sophisticated American missiles, which were acquired clandestinely during the Afghan war in the 1980s and 90s.
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