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Balakot’s most important Indian air action in four decades: IAF chief | India News


Breaking a self-imposed red line exactly one year ago, India with its Mirage-2000 fighters conducted airstrikes before dawn to bomb an important Jaish-e-Mohammed facility in Balakot on February 26, 12 days after the terrorist attack claim from Pulwama. 40 CRPF soldiers. The head of the IAF Air Force, Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, tells Rajat Pandit that the attacks sent an unequivocal message to Pakistan. Excerpts

Q: What did India achieve through the Balakot airstrikes, since the JeM facilities have returned to action and Pakistan has not stopped helping cross-border terror?

A: The air strikes against the JeM training camp in Balakot conveyed a clear message from the Indian government that Pakistan’s policy of perpetrating cross-border attacks on Indian soil will no longer be acceptable. These attacks were the most important aerial action of the IAF in more than four decades, with our fighters penetrating deeply into the Pakistani airspace, executing a precise attack in the terrorist camp and returning home without being questioned despite the defense alert PAF full air.

With these air strikes, India conveyed its firm resolution, and Pakistan would surely need to consider what we could do next if any misadventure on Indian soil is attempted. With regard to the revival of Balakot, we are closely monitoring activities in all terrorist training camps supported by Pakistan and there are appropriate strategies to counter them.

Q: What were the lessons learned from air strikes? Were there conflicting versions of whether the Spice-2000 bombs achieved the targets and the number of casualties in the terrorist ranks?

A: First of all, Balakot’s strikes were planned and executed meticulously and professionally. Once the decision on the objective was made, we chose weapons to match this objective with minimal collateral damage. The Spice-2000 bombs did just that by hitting the building that housed unconditional terrorists. There is absolutely no doubt that we reach our goal and achieve our goals. Our adversary knows it well.

Q: Did Pakistan’s counterattack the next day surprise the IAF?

A: We were not surprised at all. On the contrary, the IAF responded quickly to thwart PAF’s attempt to carry out a large attack with a massive force of more than 30 aircraft. All air bases in the northern sector were active and air combat patrols were immediately inspected to push incoming hostile fighters back into Pakistani airspace. They could not reach any goal. The young men and women of the IAF made difficult decisions both on the air and on the ground and were successful in their missions. This is in stark contrast to what we saw on the Pakistani side the day before, when our attack packet went deep inside to deliver its weapons and no PAF aircraft approached.

Q: Are there also conflicting versions of whether wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman in his MiG-21 really shot down an F-16?

A: IAF has provided adequate evidence that our fighters involved in the response to the PAF counterattack attempt challenged enemy combatants and forced them to withdraw. In the subsequent engagement, Abhinandan followed a PAF plane in “chase”, “achieved a weapon solution” and launched his missile. Electronic signatures and radar images indicated that he had hired an F-16. The parachute amateur videos and the initial statement of DG ISPR of a second captured pilot were clear evidence that another plane was falling through the LoC.

Q: What about the absence of anti-jamming technologies and secure data links in IAF fighters that caused problems that day?

A: Although secure data links were not available at that time, contrary measures were taken when a traffic jam was found.

Q: Was there also the “blue on blue” incident in which a Mi-17 helicopter was shot down by friendly fire near Srinagar on February 27, killing six IAF staff members and a civilian?

A: The incident was indeed a tragic mistake, and we have learned our lessons from it. We have carried out an in-depth analysis of the causal factors and instituted the necessary corrective measures to ensure that there is no recurrence. (The IAF has also taken disciplinary action against two officers and administrative actions against four others).

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