2 years of Balakot Air Strike: How 'Operation Bandar' in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa helped India avenge Pulwama attack
New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: At around 3.30 am on February 26, 2019, 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and destroyed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan's Balakot. The attack, which will later be known as the famous 'Balakot Air Strike', was the first aerial assault carried out by India in Pakistan after the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
The Balakot Air Strike was conducted in response to the deadly Pulwama attack that claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. The air strike was the brainchild of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and was permitted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Codenamed as 'Operation Bandar', the Balakot Air Strike was conducted by the seventh and ninth squadrons of the Indian Air Force. The IAF has used the upgraded Mirage 2000s and Sukhio Su-30 MKIs to carry out the attack inside the Pakistani territory.
How India planned the attack and avenged the Pulwama attack?
The Balakot Air Strike was mainly conducted by 12 Mirage 2000s that flew from the Gwalior Air Force base to avoid detection by the Pakistanis. The Mirage 2000s, flying three separate formations, flew over north and central India for hours before entering Pakistan.
Just before entering Pakistan, the Mirage 2000s, along with the Su-30 MKIs, formed three separate formations. The Su-30s played a major role here as they caught the attention of Pakistani radars.
The Pakistani quickly scrambled a group of F-16 fighter jets in response to the formation of the Indian Su-30s. At the same time, the Mirage 2000s headed towards Balakot and dropped Israeli-made Spice 2000 bombs on the terror facility in Balakot.
"The choice of target and execution came with a lot of planning and intelligence inputs. It was important to send a message to Pakistan that India will not tolerate any more attacks like Pulwama," said Air Marshal Hari Kumar, the man who planned and executed the Balakot Air Strike, while speaking to The Print.
Here it is noteworthy to mention that IAF had also kept its team of Garud commandos on standby for any kind of operations that may have been required due to any kind of emergency there.
How Pakistan reacted to the Balakot Air Strike?
Day after the Balakot Air Strike, Pakistan tried to attack Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the IAF successfully thawed the attack but Wing Commander Abhinandan, who shot a Pakistani F-16 via his MiG-21 Bison, was captured.
Wing Commander Varthaman, however, was released by Pakistan two days later due to international pressure. Upon returning to India, Wing Commander Varthaman received a hero's welcome.
What India achieved after the Balakot Air Strike?
The Balakot Air Strike helped India neutralise terror inside the Kashmir Valley and helped it show its military capabilities. Former Air Force chief BS Dhanoa said that Balakot Air Strike gave Pakistan a message that India "ghus kar maarenge" (will kill you in your house).
"Basically, it's a paradigm shift in the way we conduct our operations. The other side never believed that we could carry out a strike inside Pakistan to take out a terror training camp that we successfully carried out," he told while speaking to news agency ANI.
"After Balakot air strike, there was no major terrorist attack throughout the Indian elections because they were scared that we will respond again in the same manner or even more devastatingly," he added.
Posted By: Aalok Sensharma