Modi’s cloud comment and the radar theory explained
New Delhi, May 13: Prime Minister's comment on how he believed that clouds and heavy rain prevented Pakistani radars from detecting Indian fighter jets have received brickbats from the opposition leaders and people on various social media platforms.
Modi said that he gave the Indian Air Force (IAF) the green signal to proceed with its airstrike on a target in Pakistan's Balakot area on February 26 despite bad weather because "the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars".
Speaking to News Nation, PM Modi said, "The weather suddenly turned bad, there were clouds... heavy rain. There was a doubt about whether we can go in the clouds. During a review (of the Balakot plan), by and large, the opinion of experts was - what if we change the date. I had two issues in mind. One was secrecy... second, I said I am not someone who knows the science. I said there is so much cloud and rain. There is a benefit. I have a raw vision, the clouds can benefit us too. We can escape the radar. Everyone was confused. Ultimately I said there are clouds... let's proceed."
The prime minister did, however, acknowledge that he was not an expert on the matter.
However, Opposition were quick to roast the PM over his comments.
But how far is Modi's 'cloud theory' right?
Well, the Stealth technology in fighter planes used by countries like Americans have the capability to escape (less visible) to the radars. Stealth technology works by engineering an aircraft with external contours and heat signatures designed to elude detection from enemy radar systems. The absence of defined edges, noticeable heat emissions, weapons hanging on pylons or other easily detectable aircraft features, means that radar 'pings' can have trouble receiving a return electromagnetic signal allowing them to identify an approaching bomber.
The concept of stealth is to operate or hide without giving enemy forces any indication as to the presence of friendly forces.
However, not only stealth configuration, IR suppression and radar-evading materials but also other important elements such as electronic warfare 'jamming' defenses, operating during adverse weather conditions to lower the acoustic signature and conducting attacks in tandem with other less-stealthy aircraft likely to command attention from enemy air defense systems.
Stealth fighter jets, such as the F-22 and F-35, have an entirely different configuration and rely upon some vertical flight control surfaces such as tails and wings. Being more vulnerable to lower frequency surveillance radars due to having a fighter jet configuration, an F-35 or F-22 would depend upon its speed, maneuverability and air-to-air attack systems to fully defend against enemies.
But the fighter jets used during the Balakot attack by India were Mirage 2000 which do not have these capabilities, so the question of escaping Pakistani radars does not arise.
However, what could have favoured India was the short response time left for Pakistan and the attack made during poor weather conditions, which is highly unexpected in such difficult mountainous terrain.
It can be recalled that India had carried out the Balakot air strikes on February 25 targetting Jaish-e-Mohammed's training camps in Pakistan in response to the dastardly Pulwama attack on February 14. At least 40 CRPF personnel had lost their lives in the terror attack.