IAF Review Lauds Accuracy of Balakot Operation, Says Five of Six Targets Hit
This is IAF's first report since the Balakot air strike, which discusses the operation’s effectiveness and is meant to be used as a reference for future operations.
A look at French-made Dassault Mirage-2000 fighter jets used by IAF for a strike on biggest Jaish Terror Camp in Balakot.
The Indian Air Force in its review of the Balakot air strike in Pakistan has revealed that its aircraft hit five of the six designated mean point of impact (DMPI) on the buildings of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp.
On February 26, the IAF struck a training camp of Pakistan-based JeM in response to a suicide bombing attack by the terrorist organisation, which killed 40 jawans in J&K’s Pulwama.
This is the first report since the air strike, which discusses the operation’s effectiveness and is meant to be used as a reference for future operations.
While acknowledging that there could be a better weapon to target-matching and a better feedback loop, the review identifies the positives in terms of maintaining surprise, security of operations, pilot proficiency and accuracy of the weapon used. This happened after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was on full air alert mode, as seen by 6-8 airfields from where aircraft scrambled after Balakot was hit.
The “accuracy” of intelligence and the subsequent target selection is one of the positives the report talks about. Along with that, it also lists the proficiency and skills of pilots who flew the mission, and describes them as “top class”, with five of the pilots been recommended for gallantry awards.
Moreover, the IAF has concluded that the security of the operation was of the highest order with “no leakages” despite the fact that more than 6,000 people were involved in the entire operation. However, at the same time, the actual target at Balakot was known to less than 10 persons in Air Headquarters.
Deception at the strategic and tactical level deceived Pakistan, the report adds. The target selected was in the middle of nowhere, providing surprise at an operational level so effective that the closest PAF aircraft were 150km away, near Bahawalpur, from the IAF fighters.
Finally, the accuracy of the weapons has also been praised. The IAF used Spice 2000 precision guided munitions (PGM) to hit the target, among others. “Five of the six designated targets” inside the Jaish-e- Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot were hit directly, the assessment report has concluded.
Coming to some of the negative aspects of the operation, the report admits the fact that cloudy weather conditions created problems for the fighter planes. Serious questions have also been raised about weapon to target matching as the entire weapons package, except from the Spice 2000, carried by IAF was not delivered.
The other negative dimension of the air strike, as per the report, is that the IAF operation gave priority to eliminating the maximum number of terrorists at the JeM facility by choosing Spice 2000 – a penetration smart bomb – over a fragmentation weapon. The weapon chosen penetrates structures entirely and kills everyone inside whereas the latter only demolishes the structure.
As far as the recommendations are concerned, the IAF in its report has asked for more “technological asymmetry” in order to be able to “penetrate the enemy airspace at will. For this, it aims to induct new platforms such as the Russian made S-400 surface to air anti-aircraft missile systems.
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