IAF apprehends AN-12 that enters from Pakistan

Representative image

An alert Indian Air Force on Friday apprehended a Georgian An-12 cargo aircraft that entered the Indian air space from Pakistan through an unauthorised route, giving jitters to Delhi.

The aircraft entered Indian air space in north Gujarat around 3.15 pm with its IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) sensor ‘on’, but didn't follow the authorized Air Traffic Services route and didn't respond to radio calls from Indian controlling agencies.

The aircraft was supposed to enter from south of Gujarat through the Gulf of Khambat area and turn north subsequently to fly to Delhi.

Instead, it entered the Indian air space through north Gujarat-Rajasthan border area, triggering red flags in the security establishment as it was a closed space since February due to the Indo-Pak border tension.

IAF immediately scrambled two Su-30 MKI fighter jets from Jodhpur airbase to check on the unknown aircraft. The air defence of Delhi was also put on high alert with interceptors kept on operational readiness.

On visual contact, the aircraft was identified as Georgian An-12 flying at 27,000 feet. The aircraft neither responded on international distress frequency nor to visual signals during interception, an IAF spokesperson said in a statement.

However, when challenged, the aircraft responded and informed that it was a non-scheduled An-12 aircraft that had got airborne from Tbilisi (Georgia) for Delhi via Karachi.

The aircraft was shadowed and forced to land at Jaipur for investigation. The nature of the cargo and the identity of the pilots and crew are unknown.

In February, IAF and Pakistan Air Force had an air skirmish a day after IAF struck at a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp at Balakot in Pakistan.

Since then the Pakistan air space is closed for Indian flights whereas IAF maintained “a strict vigil in the skies to detect and thwart any act of aggression from PAF”.

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