19-minute long operation: How IAF planned strikes on JeM's camp
Rattling Pakistan and delivering a strong message that India won't tolerate actions of terrorism, Indian Air Force struck a terrorist training camp on Tuesday. 12 Mirage-2000 jets executed the operation, dropping nearly 1,000 kg of explosives on Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest camp in Balakot, Pakistan. After the horrendous February 14 attack, this pre-emptive action made Indians joyous. Here, we tell you how the operation happened.
The hilltop camp, ensconced among forests, was situated in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtukhwa of Pakistan. The location is all the more important as this is the first time IAF crossed the LoC since 1971 for an operation. It was at this camp that mastermind of Pulwama attack, Abdul Ghazi alias Kamran was trained. The operation started at 3:30 AM, reportedly, and ended in 19-minutes.
IAF planned this attack days ago and used an elaborate support system for the 12 jets. Airborne Early Warning and Control System Aircraft (AEW&C) Netra and Israeli Heron drone played an important role in the operation. Notably, mid-air refuellers were also deployed for emergency use. The entry of Mirage-2000 jets into Pakistan airspace shows their air force wasn't able to intercept the attack.
According to reports, India was planning the attack for 11 days to avenge the Pulwama attack. Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa suggested airstrikes as a retaliatory response on February 15, and the government approved of the idea. From February 16 to 20, IAF and Indian Army carried out surveillance with Hereon drones along LoC. For the next two days, they drew "target tables".
On February 24, a trial run was conducted in Central India. Then finally on February 25, 12 Mirage-2000 jets, armed with laser bombs, took off from the base in Gwalior in batches. Meanwhile, an IAF warning jet took off from Bathinda and a mid-air refueling tanker also left from Agra. After "painting" the targets and receiving green signal, the jets struck.
According to ANI, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) scrambled F-16 jets to respond to India but after seeing IAF's formation, they dropped the idea. The operation, carried out in pitch-darkness of the night, was reportedly commanded by Western Air Command of IAF. All the jets returned home unharmed. Earlier in the day, Pakistan claimed India "violated" the LoC but "no casualties were reported".
Confirming the successful operation, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said IAF was forced to attack as Pakistan failed to take concrete steps to contain terrorism. Gokhale added it was a non-military pre-emptive action to underline India didn't declare a war against Pakistan but acted against terrorism. The tensions between the country have obviously escalated and Pakistan spoke about retaliation as well.