A Georgian Antonov An-12 cargo aircraft flying from Karachi to Delhi that was forced by Indian Air Force fighter jets to land at Jaipur airport after it violated the Indian air space has been released after security clearance.
“It was a minor route violation, the plane was made to land in Jaipur due to security concerns. It wasn’t a serious violation, it’s been released,” Additional Commissioner of Police, Jaipur told ANI.
The aircraft reportedly deviated from its scheduled flight path and flew into India from a point in north Gujarat.
“The aircraft entered Indian air space from an unscheduled point in North Gujarat. It was successfully intercepted by highly alert IAF Air Defence aircraft and was forced to land at Jaipur airfield,” said a statement by the IAF.
The IAF immediately scrambled two Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets to intercept the cargo plane after radars detected the aircraft entering the airspace.
According to reports, the aircraft was carrying spares and was on lease from a Ukrainian engine manufacturer.
The pilots and crew were questioned before being given clearance.
The Defence Ministry said that the aircraft did not follow the authorised Air Traffic Services (ATS) and was not responding to radio calls from Indian controlling agencies.
“Since ATS routes in the area were closed due to the current geopolitical situation and the aircraft entered the Indian air space from an unscheduled point, the air defence interceptor on operational readiness was scrambled and vectored the aircraft for investigation,’’ the Ministry added.
However, when challenged by the IAF, 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 incident comes over two months after Pakistani fighter jets violated Indian air space in Jammu-Kashmir to target Indian military installations a day after the IAF bombed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camp in Balakot in retaliation to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack.
The Antonov An-12 is a four-engine turboprop transport aircraft designed in the Soviet Union. Pakistani Air Force does not use the aircraft but some countries in Central Asia, as well as China, have Antonovs in their fleet.