According to a top defence ministry source speaking on the outcome of the Indian air force’s Balakot strike, Pakistan-backed terror outfits have not been able to carry out any significant attacks on Indian territory for the past three years.
A formation of 12 Mirage-2000 jet planes invaded Pakistani airspace three years ago and delivered bombs on pre-designated targets at the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) base in Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The precision strike, codenamed Operation Bandar, lasted 21 minutes and killed almost 300 terrorists.
This was the first time Indian aeroplanes crossed the Line of Control and flew into Pakistani airspace since the 1971 war. Even during the 1999 Kargil campaign, the Indian side did not cross into Pakistan because then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee refused to allow the Indian Air Force to conduct any cross-border operations.
Officials in South Block, which houses the Ministry of Defence, said that the airstrike demonstrated that India is capable of retaliating against any heinous acts perpetrated against its country.
“The Balakot airstrike was a message to the world that it (India) will take decisive and aggressive action against threats to its sovereignty and peace,” a Ministry of Defense official said, adding that while the airstrike may not have ended Pakistani terrorism, it has sent a thunderous message around the world that India will not be a helpless victim of proxy warfare.
The Balakot airstrike was India’s retaliation for the death of 40 CRPF personnel in Pulwama on February 14, 2019, by a Pakistan-based terror group. Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft deployed laser-guided bombs to strike terror camps in response to particular intelligence inputs. Because of its precise attack capability, the Mirage 2000 was picked to carry out the operation. The planes took off from their respective airbases in Gwalior and Agra about 3:30 a.m., armed with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems’ SPICE’smart bombs.’
The bombs are precision-guided, meaning they can automatically match and destroy the target even at a distance of 100 kilometres.
The bombing on Balakot, according to the Indian Air Force, signified a dramatic paradigm shift in India’s response to cross-border terror acts on its land. “Pakistan now understands that India might strike at any time. With the introduction of the Rafale, the IAF’s beyond-visual-range fighting will be taken to a whole new level. Pakistan would have no response to it “According to an officer from the IAF.
A lot has changed since the Balakot airstrike. The IAF, the world’s fourth most powerful air force, has taken a number of steps to modernise itself.
Rafale omnirole fighter fighters, S400 air defence systems, Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and Apache assault helicopters have all been added to the Indian air force in the previous three years. To strengthen the IAF’s firepower, more Spice-2000 missiles (also known as ‘building blasters’) were authorised.
Pakistani fighters replied a day after Balakot. And the lack of an appropriate Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) was discovered, giving Pakistani fighter planes a window of opportunity to enter Indian airspace, according to reports. Because the IAF only has three such platforms that act as force multipliers in such scenarios, more eyes in the sky were required.