July 13: The Indian Air Force today scrambled fighter jets after two commercial flights, entering through Pakistan half-hour apart, gave the same identification code.
The Jodhpur Air Force Station sent two MiG21 fighters to investigate after a Turkish Airlines plane “squawked” the same code that another flight of the same airline had given out earlier. However, after verification, the plane was allowed to proceed, sources said.
The air force confirmed it had scrambled jets after a suspected air space violation but did not give details.
The unique identification code is assigned by civil aviation authorities — such as the Delhi ATC for India — to foreign aircraft that fly through national air spaces.
In this case, the codes for the two aircraft would have been given by Karachi Area Control and Delhi Area Control. Delhi Area Control shares the data with the Indian Air Force, which has a surveillance unit based in Jodhpur and has the air space above the border under radar coverage.
The goof-up could have been the civil aviation authorities’ or the airline’s.
As part of standard procedure, the air force scrambles its fighter aircraft and alerts its defence units if any unidentified aircraft is seen in Indian air space.