The “pre-emptive”, “non-military” airstrike carried out by the Indian Air Force on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) biggest terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in the wee hours of February 26, 2019, was precisely “over in 90 seconds”, and they hit the targets precisely, Hindustan Times quoted two pilots part of the operation as saying. The airstrike was carried out to avenge the loss of 40 CRPF personnel martyred in a terror attack executed by a JeM cadre on February 14, 2019, near Pulwama in Kashmir.
Moreover, the pilots revealed that the operation was so secretive that even the family members of the assault team were unknown to it.
“It was over in 90 seconds, we released the weapon and we turned back. No one, not even my close family knew,” a Mirage 2000 fighter pilot was quoted as saying.
“Next day, when news broke, my wife asked me whether I was part of the attack. I kept quiet and slept off,” said the pilot.
The pilots said that two days before the attack they guessed something was going to happen, as activities of IAF had increased, but they didn’t know exactly. On the afternoon on 25th February, Spice-2000 missiles were loaded onto the planes, and the location coordinates of the terror camps were fed into the weapons systems, one of the pilots said. They also said that senior IAF officers who knew about the plan didn’t change their daily routine so that nobody suspects anything.
The pilots informed that they deliberately took a long route as a diversionary tactic. They flew over Eastern India, and after reaching Kashmir, they maintained radio silence. “Importantly, Pakistani fighters were nowhere near us,” the pilots added.
When asked whether the operation was successful, the IAF pilots answered in affirmative. They confirmed that the weapons did the job, saying, “Of course, they hit. We had the bull’s eye.”
This was the first time in the last 48 years when the IAF entered the Pakistani airspace.
In response to the brazen attack on the CRPF convoy orchestrated by Jaish-e-Muhammad terror outfit, the IAF devised a reprisal attack, homing in on the JeM assets based in Pakistan. The target finalised was the JeM terror camp in Balakot that trained and sheltered around 200-300 terrorists.
Twelve Mirage 2000 fighters which had taken off in the wee hours of February 26 from multiple air bases, crossed over into the Pakistani air space and carried out missile attacks on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot town of Khyber Pakhtunwa province.
In the attack carried out by the Indian Air Force, pilots had dropped five Spice 2000 bombs out of which four penetrated the rooftops of the building in which the terrorists were sleeping.
While some of the Mirage aircraft carried out the attack on the Jaish camp, a team of other few Mirages and Su-30MKI combat aircraft kept the Pakistan air force planes away from causing any hindrance or launching any counter-offensive.
Amidst the raging debate in the Indian political arena around Balakot airstrikes’ authenticity and efficacy, a senior Italian journalist has claimed that 130-170 terrorists had died in India’s airstrike in Balakot while 45 injured terrorists are still under treatment by Pakistani Army Doctors, while 20 terrorists have already died during treatment.
Speaking on Monday about the IAF air assault, IAF chief BS Dhanoa had confirmed, “on Balakot let me tell you, Pakistan didn’t come into our airspace. Our objective was to strike terror camps & their’s was to target our army bases. We achieved our military objective. None of them crossed the Line of Control.”
#WATCH BS Dhanoa, Indian Air Chief Marshal says,”On Balakot let me tell you, Pakistan didn’t come into our airspace. Our objective was to strike terror camps & their’s was to target our army bases. We achieved our military objective. None of them crossed the Line of Control.” pic.twitter.com/l5pt3xFcqa
— ANI (@ANI) June 24, 2019
The operation was planned and kept under utter secrecy for the fear of losing the ‘surprise’ factor, critical in the successful completion of such operations. To this end, the operation was code-named as Operation Bandar (Monkey). “In order to maintain secrecy and avoid getting the plans leaked out, the operation was code-named as Operation Bandar,” had disclosed defence personnel recently.