No, the Mi-17s flying that day did have CMDS & so did the one that was shot down. Ajay Ahuja's case is entirely different, because of the pathetic state (then) of our older MiG-21 fleet including the Ms, in terms of countermeasures.
Narayan Menon says "another aspect was that the counter measure dispensing system (CMDS) fitted on the helicopters, that ejected flare cartridges to lure away heat seeking missiles had been rendered unreliable due to disuse and these slower gunships had become vulnerable." He is referring in specific to the helicopter that was lost and other helicopters that suffered serviceability issues wrt their CMDS as well.
However, the ones that did have operational systems, covered the Mi-17 that was lost with their overlapping CMDS coverage. That was a big reason why the crew decided to take the calculated risk. And the method worked to a large extent allowing for multiple passes to be made. Ultimately though, one missile got through. I won't go into details as to how the formation was set up, even if discussed publicly, but the IAF's method worked brilliantly till then & still has operational relevance.
A lot of the published coverage on Kargil, including those by senior officers & otherwise excellent authors is misleading or sometimes plain wrong.
For instance, Phil Camp's statements about Atlis being used during Safed Sagar. No, it was Litening & many folks have seen the imagery from the FLIR at a public event to know the truth. I find it ironic that he went so far as to mention drop ranges & the like, but mixed up this part. The Litening imagery at both Tiger Hill and Muntho Dhalo can be seen here:http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Histo ... henag.html
This flares information is similarly from those who actually investigated the mission in order to ensure the relevant lessons were learnt. Its been many years now and since the information was shared publicly, I see no reason to be hiding it. Anyhow, the Pakistanis have access to various types of MANPADS and CMDS and will know the basic details.
Gupta's information is correct when looked at about the parlous state of the earlier MiG-21s. The import proposal had been set up with a clear operational requirement in the 1980's as these earlier aircraft (unlike the Mirages) did not come with OEM equipped sets (which in any case would have been obsolete) and needed upgrade. AHQ identified several manufacturers but the mandarins at the bureaucratic level sat on the files as these and other upgrades were deemed expensive.
The state in Kargil revealed that upgrades across the IAF were limited and even premier newer airframes had limitations, but which were worked around. Far better than the pathetic condition of the PAF though.
For instance, the Mirage 2000 fleet - commonly perceived to be across the board MR - was anything but, with only a few A2G ordinance qualified, and only limited pilots plus ground crew available for such taskings . And air to ground ordinance was hurriedly sought during Kargil for the Mirage 2000, dug up from IAF stocks, qualified in a hurry and then used to effect.
LGBS were quickly qualified on the Jaguar - combat use was a flop though, leaving the Mirages as the key carrier. Only after Kargil did the fleet become extensively LGB capable.
Incidentally, the perception about Ahuja has always been that he would not have been shot down if he had not made repeated passes to "fix" Nachiketa's position and support him, any which way. That made his flight paths predictable & allowed the Manpads operator to track him successfully and shoot him down.
Ultimately, Ahuja paid the price for his own bravery and esprit de corps. The lack of CMDS did not deter him (and the other escorts) from flying their missions. Usually, they were flying high and fast and MANPADS launched had a miserable success rate.
But as the Su-22 pilots discovered in 1971, repeated passes allow the surface to air weapons operators to target them. In 1971, it was the guns. At Kargil, it was the MANPADS operators.
The lessons have been learnt, and the IAF won't be an easy catch anytime. The PAF on the other hand, or even the PLAAF - they really haven't faced any tough campaign apart from (in the formers case) bombing some ill trained tribals. I doubt whether their pilots or their engineering crew will be able to improvise on the fly when faced with such challenges.
The helicopter dived deep and the missile operator lost laser lock.
This could be one of the repetitive issues faced by the RBS-70. For obvious reasons, details are sanitized and I don't expect anyone to come clean about them anytime soon (too many operators). But it does seem this system is not as effective as originally thought, when the Pakistanis hyped it up and claimed it was a sure shot way to deny IAF strikers their airspace at low altitude. At least one of the operators is looking actively to replace their RBS-70 inventory