Asserting that the use of Mirage-2000 "turned the tide" in favour of India during the Kargil War in 1999, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa Monday said modification of the multi-role fighter aircraft was in process back then and was "expedited" for its deployment in the operation.
Addressing a press conference here, he also said, to accelerate the modification of Mirage-2000, which he described was still the "sword arm of the IAF", its integration with targeting pods and 1000-pound laser-guided bombs (LGBs) were done in a "record time of 12 days".
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Central Command, Air Marshal Rajesh Kumar, who accompanied Dhanoa during the interaction with reporters at the Air Force Station here, said, "the aircraft is going an upgrade and one squadron worth of Mirage-2000 aircraft has been upgraded".
In response to a question, Kumar said that on August 2, 2002, the IAF conducted an attack on an adversary target in Kel area of Jammu and Kashmir to send out a clear message that "you can't do this" and of course, "we do not want to start a war".
The IAF chief earlier participated in a dramatic reenactment of the Tiger Hill attack and its recapture, that was held at the base to mark the 20th anniversary of the attack on the hill by the Indian armed forces.
He attended the commemorative event as the chief guest and wore an olive flying overall.
At the press interaction, he also spoke about the LGB-equipped Mirage-2000 used in Tiger Hill attack on this day in 1999 and the Spice Bomb-equipped Mirage-2000 deployed in Balakot operation in February 2019.
"Modification to the Mirage-2000 was in process and expedited, and system was brought in play for the Kargil War," the IAF chief said.
To accelerate the modification of the aircraft, its integration with targeting pods and 1000-pound laser guided bombs (LGBs) were done in a "record time of 12 days," he added.
Dhanoa asserted said deploying Mirage-2000 jets and air support to ground forces turned the tide of the 1999 war in favour of India.
"Tiger Hill was also a message at that particular time that no matter how small your are, no mater how precariously you are positioned, we will be abe able to get you and hit you," Dhanoa said.
The Mirage-2000 aircraft played a crucial role in the battles fought during the war and also hit enemy targets bunkered in at the Tiger Hill, besides tasting success at Muntho Dhalo in June 1999.
To a question on the recent crash of an IAF AN-32 aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh, Dhanoa said, "AN-32 aircraft will continue to fly in mountainous areas. We don't have any replacement."
"We are in process of getting more modern aircraft which will be put in critical role once received, and AN-32 will be out and used for transport and training purposes," he said.
All 13 air warriors on board the transport aircraft died in the crash in a heavily forested mountainous area in Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month. Air Marshal Kumar, elaborating on the upgrade of Mirage-2000, said, this will "extend its life by 20 years" and bring in new weapons, new system.
"The HAL has already delivered a squadron's worth of aircraft and they will continue to do so," he said.
A squadron consists of 18-odd jets. Thw Gwalior Air Base has three squadrons of Mirage-2000 -- Battles Axes (Sqn No 7), Tigers (Sqn No 1) and Wolfpack Aggressors (Sqn No 9).