Washington: After India’s defeat in the 1962 war with China, then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru allowed American U-2 spy plane overflights of Tibet and border areas, including a refuelling track over India, according to newly-declassified CIA documents.
Nehru approved overflights by U-2 missions covering border areas with China on November 11, 1962, according to a report released yesterday by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, which obtained a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) history of the U-2 spy plane programme through a public records request.
The agreement with India to allow U-2 overflights of Tibet and the Sino-Indian border areas from Takhli airbase in Thailand, including a refuelling track over India, plus two deployments to Charbartia airbase in 1964, is now declassified.
The use of abandoned First World War base Charbatia near Cuttack in Odisha was agreed during a meeting between then US president John F Kennedy and then Indian president Sarvapelli Radhakrishnan on June 3, 1963, but since India took longer to improve it, the missions resumed from Takhli.
According to the working paper, the November 10, 1963, mission was the longest flown by a U-2 at 11 hours 45 minutes, and the pilot was so exhausted that project managers limited future flights to 10 hours endurance.
The report suggests that the first deployment to Charbatia in May 1964 ended because of the death of Nehru, whom it mistakenly describes as president.