Narendra Modi Israel visit: With PM in Israel, it would be apt to remember another instance when Israel stood side by side with India in a conflict situation. During the Kargil conflict, it was early morning on June 24, 1999 when two Mirage-2000 fighters of the 7 Squardon of the Indian Air Force were just 18 kilometres behind Tiger Hill, which is a crucial hilltop front then occupied by Pakistani infiltrators. Soon the Indian aircraft brought the crosshairs of the laser designator from the Israeli LITENING pod on the Pakistan bunkers which was the Command and Control centre of the Paistan Army Northern Light Infantry battalion. As per a report by Indian Express, when the warjet was about 7 kms away from the Tiger Hill, the pilot fired the Paveway laser-guided bomb also known as LGB. As in the 1971 War, Israel delivered when India needed it the most.
The video of the mid-air bombing mission was released in New Delhi the very next day and is still available on the internet. The report further stated two Mirages returned after another bombing mission at a target which was 80 km to the west and recorded another video at the Tiger Hill. The video goes ahead to show a lone Pakistani soldier, who survived the attack, trying to climb the top of the feature.
“The Mirage 2000s, bought from France in 1985, were equipped with Thomson-CSF laser designator pods known as ATLIS, capable of delivering Matra 1,000 kg LGBs,” stated the report.
The Air Force then had around 60 Matra LGBs which were used to destroy the reinforced targets. These bombs were crucial, but very expensive with a cost of around Rs 2 cr each. Speaking to Indian Express, an Air Marshal, who was then serving in the 7 Squardon said, “Each of these bombs virtually had a high-value Pakistani target — a bridge, a dam, an ammunition dump — written on it. With the danger of conflict escalation still there, we could not have used them in Kargil.”
However, the solution to these retired bombs came from the Israelis as, in 1997, the AIF had signed a contract for Israeli-made LITENING electro-optical targeting pods. They went out of their way to help the IAF utilise the LGBs. According to Indian Express, the Israeli technicians flew in urgently and worked with the IAF’s Aircraft System Testing Establishment in Bengaluru and ensured that teh system could be used by India and that too in no time at all – truly a great example of Israeli tech and Indian facility for jugaad.