Lightning Squadron shines in Pakistan after 47 years

Cecil Parker from TS commanded it in 1971 war.

Hyderabad: In a rare gesture, a retired Pakistani Air force officer acknowledged one of India’s greatest air strikes on Af-Pak base camp in his recent book ‘In the Ring and on Its Feet’.

Air Commodore, M. Kaiser Tufail (retd), PAF fighter pilot, gave credit to IAF Squadron No 20 called ‘Lightning’ that launched its strongest attack on Pakistan’s open airbase at Murid during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The squadron was then commanded by Air Vice-Marshal, Cecil Vivian Parker (retd), the celebrated IAF officer and resident of Vayupuri.

In the book, he said the Indian Hunter Aircraft destroyed five Pak jets. Ironically, the history diary commissioned by the ministry of defence published after 1971 war made no claim of large scale destruction, except for one Pak aircraft.

The acknowledgment came after 47 years since the 1971 war. Pakistani aviation historian officer Tufail wrote, “IAF Hunter belonging to Squadron 20 destroyed five Pak F86 Sabres on the ground in Murid. The F86 wasn’t just any fighter, but it was the premiere flight of Pakistan and the single-biggest challenge for the IAF in air battles in 1965 and 1971 wars. Sabres shot down several IAF in air-to-air combat.”

However, ironically, the official war history diary published after 1971 war had not mentioned destruction of Sabres.

Parker recalled, “In a formation of four Hunter aircraft, the IAF raided 120 km deep into the Pak airbase and launched a remarkable attack that destroyed its assets and left them paralysed. It happened in a span of 75 minutes.

Never have more jets been destroyed in a single raid by IAF. The squadron was second-most decorated in IAF. Parker (85) is the only Maha Vir Chakra awardee in the two Telugu states and holds a record of flying 22 types of aircraft and logged 3,850 flying hours in a career with IAF spanning 35 years. Indian aviation historian K. S. Nair added, “In history, Pak war diaries have acknowledged Squadron 20 twice. The greatest IAF air strike is much talked about in Pak war history.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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