IAF chief flies Mirage 2000 to mark second anniversary of Balakot operations
Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Saturday flew in a multi-aircraft formation from a premier air base in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior to mark the second anniversary of the Balakot operations — India’s unprecedented, peacetime cross-border strikes on the back of the February 2019 Pulwama terror attack, people familiar with the developments said.
Bhadauria flew a Mirage 2000, the aircraft that was used for bombing Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) targets in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26, 2019, said one of the officials cited above. “The IAF chief flew with pilots from the squadrons that were part of the operations,” he said. The five-aircraft formation consisted of Mirage 2000s and Sukhoi-30 fighters.
IAF on Tuesday also released a video of a precision strike carried out by Mirage 2000s against a dummy target in Rajasthan to mark the second anniversary of the cross-border air strikes. “The strike was carried out by members of the squadron that carried out the actual operations,” the official said. The fighter jets dropped Spice 2000 bombs on the practice target.
The IAF’s Mirage 2000s hit three targets in Balakot with five Israeli-origin Spice 2000 bombs with penetrator warheads that allowed them to pierce through the rooftops before exploding inside to cause maximum damage. While the actual bombing was carried out by the Mirages, Su-30s were part of the IAF’s strike package that day.
The IAF chief flying the Mirage 2000 with the squadron that carried out the operations is a reaffirmation of the success of the mission at the highest level, said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.
“When the head of the force flies solo, it shows that our commanders lead from the front. It also signifies that the IAF is proud of the professionalism and combat training status of its cutting-edge fleets,” Chopra said.
“The Spice 2000 live mission by the squadron clearly sends a message that the IAF’s sword blade remains sharp, and ready to penalise a belligerent adversary,” Chopra added.
Each bomb that hit the JeM targets carried around 80kg of explosives in a 900-kg steel casing, with the explosion caused by time-delay fuses sending a lethal quantity of shrapnel that instantly killed the occupants. The bombs hit their targets in a vertical attack angle, leaving holes measuring 80 to 90 cm in diameter on the rooftops of the structures, as previously reported by Hindustan Times.
The air strikes against the terror base were in response to the Pakistan-backed Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF men were killed on February 14, 2019.