The Indian air force launched a series of air strikes in late May against insurgents in the disputed Kashmir region, close to the line of control which marks the border with Pakistan.

Insurgents have occupied locations in the mountains around Drass-Kargil-Batalik, north of Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir, says the Indian Ministry of Defence, which claims that they are backed by Pakistan army regulars. The two nuclear powers have fought three wars over Kashmir. There are fears this latest action could escalate into a wider conflict.

By 28 May, the third day of the strikes, India had admitted to losing two aircraft: a Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbed and a Mikoyan MiG-27 Flogger. India claims the MiG-27 was lost following engine failure and that the MiG-21 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile on 27 May. Pakistan claims to have destroyed both aircraft after they strayed across the border. It also says both sets of wreckage are within Pakistan-administered Kashmir and that one pilot was captured and the other killed.

As Flight International closed for press, it was reported that India had lost a helicopter. Its armed forces used rocket pod-equipped Mil Mi-17 Hips in early strikes. Indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Cheetahs and Chetaks are also routinely based in Kashmir.

Indian newspaper reports suggest that Mikoyan MiG-23s also took part in early strikes, with MiG-29s providing cover.

Source: Flight International