Surgical strike 2.0 on Pakistan by Indian Air Force (IAF)! Nearly five decades after the 1971 Indo-Pak War, the brave hearts of IAF entered Pakistan and decimated terror camps in Balakot, located in the hilly terrain of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In a pre-dawn, ‘preemptive’ and ‘non-military strike’, IAF pilots flying in a dozen Mirage-2000 fighter jets conducted aerial strikes at locations which were used by dreaded terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) to train and indoctrinate terrorists to carry out fidayeen or suicide attacks.
India’s decisive, punitive action came 12 days after a suicide bomber, who was a JeM terrorist, rammed into a CRPF convoy with an explosive-laden car on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway in Pulwama, killing 40 personnel. According to Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, intelligence inputs indicated that more such attacks were possible, and hence the destruction of the biggest JeM training camp was carried out as a preemptive measure.
The IAF used two-pronged tactics. One to attack with ever reliable Mirage-2000 jets and to counter possible attempts by Pakistan Air Force by keeping Sukhoi Su-30 frontline fighter aircraft on alert, states an IE report: With the finest pilots and modern weaponry, IAF managed to carry out the operation with surgical precision, according to Indian Express report.
Here is a look at how the Surgical Strike 2.0 was carried out by IAF:
In a display of exemplary courage, IAF’s 12 Mirage 2000 crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to fly deep into Pakistan territory. At 3.45 am, Mirage 2000 pumped 1000 kg bombs at the Balakot terror camp located at Jabha Top, the report said.
While the air strike at Jabha hilltop lasted for 8 minutes, the entire operation was completed within an hour, the report added. At the Jabha top, where the main Jaish terror camp was located, 4-5 explosions occurred leaving terrorists and Pakistan armed forces in shock. Locals termed the event as “an earthquake-like sensation for 5-10 minutes”, according to a BBC World Service TV (Urdu and Hindi) report.
Mirage-2000, which was originally manufactured by Dassault Aviation and later upgraded, has IFF (identify friend or foe) systems, glass cockpit capable of night-vision. Besides that, the Jets also have advanced multi-mode multi-layered radar and an integrated electronic warfare suite.
Mirage-2000 was ably assisted by four Sukhoi Su-30 MKI aircraft. In a display of proper planning, the Sukhois tested Pakistan’s armed forces’ response. When nothing came, Mirage 2000 went for the goal. The IAF, sources which were quoted in the report, said that they were able to dupe Pakistan radars by using the technique called “masking by hills”, and employing two decoys to deflect Pakistan Air Force and pulling up to strike after flying low.
Before the operation, designated locations of targets were shared with Mirage-2000 fleet. Targets at Balakot were chosen on the basis of intelligence inputs and keeping in mind the collateral damage.
PHALCON Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) supplied by Israel, and our desi Netra aircraft and Heron UAV were used to assess and monitor the situation and threat if any. They showed that no airborne machine was within the 100 km radius while the operation was underway. Heron UAV is a “fire and forget” munition which automatically targets as soon as it is launched counting just on its navigation/seeker system.
The Mirage jets were also deployed during the 1999 Kargil War. They are equipped with Crystal Maze Mark2 and SPICE-2000 which are known as AGM 142 Popeye missile, allowing the IAF to strike the target with accuracy. The Israeli-origin Popeye is categorised as a medium-range conventional missile that can be fired from a distance of around 90 km. Smart Precise Impact and Cost Effective guidance kit, also known as the SPICE-2000 is defined as forward and tail kit developed by Israel from the Popeye missile itself, installed on a 2000-pound Mk 84 unguided bomb. This equips it into a smart guided air-to-surface weapon which can be fired from a distance of up to 60 km.
IL-78 mid-air refuelling tankers: Apart from the Mirage and Sukhoi aircraft, the IAF fleet also included two IL-78 mid-air refuelling tankers were for the bog operation so that fleet could come back to designated air bases.