In 1965 Too, Pilot In Inferior Plane Downed Pakistan Fighter
- When Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in a Russia-made MiG-21 Bison fired at a comparatively advanced US-made Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 along the Line of Control, little did he know that he was creating aviation history. But this may not have been the first time that a relatively inferior IAF jet had successfully engaged with an advanced PAF fighter aircraft.
- During the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War, Squadron Leader Ajjamada Boppayya Devayya, who posthumously received the Maha Vir Chakra, had shot down a US-made PAF F-104 Starfighter while flying an inferior Mystere of French make.
- On Monday, speaking at Coimbatore Base Repair Depot, IAF Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa had said, “In 1965, a heavy, slow-moving IAF Mystere shot down a Pakistani F-104 Starfighter. Something similar has happened over the past five days.”
- The dogfight between the Mystere and the Starfighter was also recorded by British author John Fricker in his book ‘Battle for Pakistan’ published in 1979, where he wrote, “On September 7, 1965, Mystere pilot Squadron Leader A B Devayya showed commendable courage by staying in the fight, and despite being mortally wounded he eventually scored several cannon strikes against the Starfighter, causing it to be abandoned. This was the first and only Starfighter to be lost through enemy action in the 1965 war.”
- Devayya was part of an air strike mission on the PAF base at Sargodha, with the objective being to neutralise its air assets. “Devayya engaged in a dogfight with the Starfighter flown by Pakistani Flight Lieutenant Amjad Hussain at an altitude of 7,000 ft. The PAF fighter was faster and more modern, but Hussain made the mistake of reducing his speed in an attempt to out-turn Devayya. Hussain failed to clear his tail during the dog-fight and suffered several cannon strikes. He was forced to eject,” said a senior IAF officer on condition of anonymity.
- “Since the Mystere had a limited range for action and did not have enough fuel reserves to return to India, what happened to Devayya is a mystery. Perhaps he was killed in a crash or an unsuccessful ejection, which was later confirmed by PAF,” the officer added.
- IAF Wing Commander (retired) Praful Bakshi said, “It requires a certain kind of attitude to be such superb pilots, who choose to sit in the cockpit and fight until their jets crash. Both Squadron Leader Devayya and Wing Commander Varthaman had this quality, which came out when they met enemy fighters.”
- Flight Lieutenant Amjad Hussain was shot down again in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War while attempting a strike on the Amritsar airfield and spent more than a year as a prisoner of war. He went on to become an Air Vice Marshal in Pakistan.