New Delhi: Pakistani fighter jets intercepted a SpiceJet Delhi-Kabul Indian passenger plane last month. The incident took place amid heavy tensions between India and Pakistan following the Balakot airstrikes in February.
The SpiceJet flight was intercepted by Pakistani F-16 fighter jets September 23 while it was mid-air. The F-16 pilots communicated with the Indian passenger plane asking it to lower its altitude and demanding details of the flight.
The SG-21 plane had taken off from New Delhi, heading to Kabul in Afghanistan with 120 passengers on board.
The incident took place after the Pakistani ATC misunderstood the SpiceJet flight code ‘SG’ as ‘IA’, confusing it for an Indian Army or Indian Air Force aircraft. Therefore, when the Pakistani ATC reported of an Indian flight with ‘IA’ code, it prompted the authorities to launch their F-16s to intercept the plane.
A DGCA official said that the F-16s escorted the SpiceJet aircraft out of Pakistani airspace into Afghanistan as soon as the confusion was cleared.
“At the time when Pakistani F-16s were flying around the flight, all the passengers were asked to shut their windows and maintain silence,” a news agency quoted the passengers as saying.
After landing in Kabul, the return flight was delayed by almost five hours as officials from the Pakistani embassy had to file the paperwork for the mid-air chaos.