Gwalior: "Pakistan did not enter our airspace, we hit the terror camps and it failed to target our army bases," Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on Monday while talking about the Balakot air strike in February.
“Civil aviation is an integral part of our economy and we never closed our air space, except for a couple of hours on February 27 when we had to close it in Srinagar," he said. "Tension with Pakistan did not force us to close our air space as our economy is strong and vibrant."
Dhanoa said that the Balakot air strike would have been more successful if the country had Rafale aircraft in its arsenal.
Commander in Chief of Central Command Rajesh Kumar said that before Balakot, the Indian Air Force had crossed over the Line of Control (LoC) to carry out an air strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's Kul sector on Aug 2, 2002. Aided by Mirage 2000 fighter planes, the strike had destroyed the terror base, Kumar claimed.
Speaking at an event at the Gwalior air base to commemorate 20 years of the Kargil war, Dhanoa said the integration of targeting pods and laser-guided bomb system for the Mirage 2000 aircraft for the Kargil war was done in a record time of 12 days.
"Modification to the Mirage 2000 was in process and expedited, and system was brought in place for the Kargil War. The integration of Litening targeting pod and laser-guided bomb system was done in a record time of 12 days," said Dhanoa, adding that deploying Mirage 2000 jets and air support to ground forces turned the tide of the 1999 war.
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 personnel on board the transport aircraft died in the crash in a heavily forested mountainous area in Arunachal Pradesh this month. Their bodies were recovered after a rescue operation.
(With inputs from PTI)