Forward located to Jalandhar from Gwalior, how the Mirage finished the job in 21 minutes
New Delhi, Feb 26: The Indian Air Force carried out an air strike on key Jaish-e-Mohammad facilities in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakothi in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
In all the operation lasted for 21 minutes, sources tell OneIndia. Incidentally this is the first strike by the Indian Air Force deep inside Pakistan since the 1971 Indo-Pak war. It may be recalled that during the Kargil war of 1999, the IAF jets had not crossed the Line of Control on the orders of the then government.
For the operation the Mirage jets had been forward located to the UAF base at Adampur near Jalandhar from Gwalior. This is the base of the MiG 29 twin engine jets. The IAF had also moved several of its aircraft near the border since the Pulwama attack.
During all high-level meetings, it was decided that an air strike was the best option. Moreover it was also said that India has a right to self defence and hence could strike deep into Pakistan and target terror camps that are a threat to India.
Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokale made it clear at a presser that the strikes did not amount to military action and no civilian was also targeted. He said that a large number of commanders and terrorists had been eliminated in the strike.
For the IAF, the operation was a high risk one. There was always a danger of being shot down. Sources said that the entire operation was meticulously planned in quick time and the IAF informed that it was ready for the strike to be carried out on Tuesday.
Pakistan was expecting a hit at Pakistan occupied Kashmir and this was the perception that had been built up by India. 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.
The first target to be hit was at Balakot at 3.45 am. The second strike was at Muzaffarabad at 3.48 am. The final strike was at Chakothi at 3.58 am. Sources say that the biggest hit was at Balakot as it was a key Jaish-e-Mohammad camp. It houses nearly 300 terrorists, most of whom had been moved from PoK after the Pulwama attack.