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Balakot: IAF always had capability to strike deep, but never got political clearance, Retd Air Marsh

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New Delhi, Mar 05: Deception was one of the most crucial components of the air strike at Balakot carried out by the Indian Air Force.

A control room at New Delhi, tracked the fighters using multiple sources including the Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems aircraft which was flying around in Indian airspace.

Balakot: IAF always had capability to strike deep, but never got political clearance, Retd Air Marsh

As the fighters took off from the Gwalior air base, several other assets went airborne. A section of the airspace was vacated. The fighter along with the other assets flew in radio silence and the sensors were switched off. Meanwhile at the control room in Delhi, it was found that Pakistan was trying to respond to a Su-30 MKI, which were rushed to a different direction. When the Indian fighters turned back, the Indian Air Defence Systems came online.

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Officials familiar with the operation said that the exercise was a tough one as we had planned this operation at a time when Pakistan was on a very high state of alert. When the decision was finally taken to strike at Balakot, several aircraft took off from the air bases at the Central and Western commands simultaneously. This was done to confuse Pakistan. It was not clear where the strikes would take place due to multiple aircraft taking off at the same time. Pakistan did not expect that the destination would be Balakot and was anticipating a hit at Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

One of the key components in this operation was Netra, an airborne early earning and control aircraft. This aircraft can jam radars, Air Marshal (retd) B K Pandey explains. Further the attacking aircraft had shut down the radars and the waves could have alerted Pakistan, he also says.

He also said that the aircraft was flying very low and hence detection becomes extremely difficult. He also says that the area in which the strike was carried out is not air defence sensitive. Pakistan's air defence is more active on the border and in insurgency affected areas, he further added.

The Indian Air Force took advantage of these aspects. He also said that had the attacking aircraft been scrambled then the Sukhoi 30 MKI would have come in. The operation over all was well planned and executed to perfection, he adds.

He also said that this operation is less complex when compared to an Army effort to carry out a surgical strike. Such an operation is also more effective in nature, he explained. He says that following this strike one could expect more such operations. The IAF would conduct such an operation not just in depth, but also to curb the firing along the border, B S Pandey also said.

The IAF always had this capability to strike deep. However the problem was that the IAF never got political clearance.

In this operation the IAF crossed the border into the North West Frontier Province and penetrated really deep and more importantly took the Pakistan Air Force by surprise. To that extent this is an extremely successful mission.

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One must also bear in mind that the terrorist training camp that was hit is a military asset for Pakistan. Pakistan is not capable of fighting a conventional war. My guess is that Pakistan will re-build this facility.

B K Pandey also adds that the real assessment of the operation could be gauged on the level of terrorism. I feel that these terror groups would activate their sleeper cells across the country.

India on the other hand would have to sustain the effort. I do not believe that Pakistan would escalate this and the question of using the nuclear weapons is ruled out. The Chinese would not allow that and Pakistan cannot afford it, he adds.

On the other hand the Indian Army would continue to cleanse the Valley of terrorists and I hope that the government would lend complete support to the same, B K Pandey also adds.

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