Yesterday morning between in the early hours, 12 Mirage 2000 aircraft of the Indian airforce flew deep inside Pakistani territory and bombed a major Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist camp to dust. It was an operation immaculately planned and executed with pinpoint precision. The fact that the Mirage jets successfully bombed the terror camps and came back without a scratch, is a remarkable tale that will be told for years to come.
Here are 10 most remarkable facts about the air strike by Indian Air Force yesterday that not only turned a large-scale terror establishment to smoke but also ensured India’s moral, strategic and diplomatic win after the dreadful Pulwama attacks.
- It was the first operation after the 1971 war with Pakistan that the Indian fighter jets have crossed the LoC and flown inside Pakistani airspace. Even during the peak of Kargil war between the two countries, the then Vajpayee government had ordered the Indian Air Force not to cross the LoC. As per reports, the Indian Air Force had planned it in since February 15, just a day after the Pulwama attack.
- NSA Ajit Doval and Air chief BS Dhanoa worked throughout the night on Monday, monitoring the preparations and operations from the war room in IAF headquarters. Director General of Air Operations Air Marshal Amit Dev and his team played a significant role in the operations from the war room.
- Apart from the 12 Mirage 2000 aircraft that had taken off from their respective air bases in Gwalior and Agra, a formation of Sukhoi Su 30-MKIs, 5 Mig 29s were also on standby to protect the Indian airspace. Reports say that while the IAF put assets worth over Rs 2,568 crores flying across the LoC, it kept equipment and aircraft of over 3600 crores on standby for necessary support.
- The 12 Mirage fighter jets flew with their radars turned off to avoid detection by the enemy. It was two of the IAF’s Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, DRDO developed ‘Netra’ or the ‘Eye in The Sky’ that guided them across the LoC into the enemy territory. The Netras shepherded the 12 Mirage jets during the air strikes. The Netra’s eye is a 1.4-ton AESA radar mounted on it which can detect targets from over 200 km away. The five flight controllers on the EJ-145 directed the aircraft to their target, right up to the release of the bomb and back.
Hugely significant day for homegrown Indian defence tech — today marks the 1st operational use of the IAF’s sole Netra airborne early warning platform (@DRDO_India sensors on an @Embraer jet) in an offensive mission. pic.twitter.com/st4AsYInV5
— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) February 26, 2019
- An Ilyushin II-78 aerial refuelling tanker travelled with the fleet of Mirage 2000s. Some reports say that a number of Sukhoi Su 30-MKIs were also airborne during the operation. Guarding the Mirage 2000s against any threats.
- An Israel-made UAV Heron, a medium altitude long endurance drones developed by the Israel Aerospace Industries was also keeping the Mirage 2000s company. It was deployed to carry out real-time air surveillance.
- The Mirage 2000s carried the SPICE ‘smart bombs’ made by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems. Each SPICE 2000 is approximately a 1000 KG air to ground bomb that can be launched from a distance of 100 km. Israel had used these same bombs in Syria. The SPICE uses a Digital Scene Matching Area Correlator (DSMAC) technology. The technology enables it to match the target as it zooms in, with pre-fed images apart from the GPS coordinates. They also come with anti-GPS jammer, which means the enemy cannot manipulate its homing device. The Mirages also used the Israeli made Lightening Targetting Pods to target the precise locations.
- The Balakot terror camp was chosen based on strong intelligence that it has long been used as a training and indoctrination facility and currently there are more than 300 terrorists and many top commanders housed there. Balakot camp was located in the woods, away from the civilian area. It was a top facility with playground, swimming pool, racing tracks, an ammunition dump, and social media war room. Many trainers in the facility are believed to be ex-ISI and the Pakistani army. Indian intelligence sources reportedly had enough credible information that JeM has called back its terrorists from Launchpads along the LoC and many of them have been holed up in Balakot camp. Even the US intelligence agencies are said to be aware of the existence of the Balakot camp after they had detained Hafez Rehman, a Taliban terrorist who was trained in the Balakot camp.
- 25 top Jaish-e-Mohammad commanders, including Masood Azhar’s brother-in-law Yusuf Azhar, Maulana Ammar, associated with Afghanistan and Kashmir ops and Maulana Talha Saif, brother of Maulana Masood Azhar and head of the preparation wing have also been killed in the air strikes. 6 buildings of the camp, located about 60 km straight distance away from Abbottabad were levelled in the air strike.
- India’s official statement after the attacks, that it was a pre-emptive non-military action, has actually worked to put Pakistan in a fix. Pakistan had earlier claimed that no damage was done in the attack. But after the UNSC statement and the support of many global powers that India has a right to self-defence against terrorist groups, drain away any validation from Pakistan’s cry of victimhood after the attacks.
It has been reported that PAF actually scrambled some F-16s after the Indian air strike, but seeing India’s massive formation of airborne fighter jets and other aircraft, it hastily backed down. Pakistan, already losing face over a failed democracy and its continuous harbouring of terrorists, depleted military aid from the US after Donald Trump put his foot down and the subject of international isolation, has been reduced to a joke by its own government and military officials.
India’s air strikes may not have ended terrorism from our hostile neighbourhood, but it has delivered a thundering message across the world that Indian will not be a helpless victim, but it will take decisive and aggressive action against the threats to its sovereignty and peace.