India had been on the verge of bombing targets in Pakistan when the Kargil War was at its worst peak on June 13, 1999, NDTV reported on Wednesday. The Indian Air Force had targets and route maps chalked out, and pilots had loaded revolvers and Pakistani currency in hand, in case they were forced to eject themselves from their jets while over the other side of the border.
The IAF had nearly carried out these operations because negotiations between the then foreign ministers of the countries at war – Jaswant Singh and Sartaj Aziz – had reached an impasse. Sinha had given Aziz several terms to end the war, which included withdrawing Pakistan's troops from the Kargil mountains and drop their demand for a new Line of Control.
All preparations for the bombing mission were laid out in IAF's documents, accessed by NDTV. According to the Squadron Diary of the IAF's 17 Squadron, the "Golden Arrows", all pilots had been called back after receiving Command Air Tasking Orders for a "pre-emptive strike at dawn on 13 June".
At 4.30 am on June 13, they received "NO GO" executive orders and were directed to be on standby. They were told to "stand down" at 12.30 pm. The reason behind the withdrawal of orders remains unknown. The then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had given strict orders to former IAF head Air Chief Marshal AY Tipnis to not allow his pilots to cross the LoC, The Times of India reported. Tipnis had sought permission to let his men cross the LoC "slightly" for "better attack options", the report added.
The Golden Arrows, a formation of MiG 21 jets that flew from the Srinagar Air Force base, were directed to carry out the operations, along with other MiG 21 and MiG 27 fighter jets. While the mission involved the risk of the jets being shot down by Pakistan's F-16s and HQ2B Surface to Air Missiles, Indian forces at the time had the advantage of a better weapons system. The Indian Army had successfully forced Pakistani troops to fall back by July 1999.