Squadron that carried out Balakot operation makes long-range practice strike
Ahead of the two-year anniversary of the Balakot strike, pilots of the squadron who carried out the operation held a long-range precision strike against a practice target.
In another event to commemorate the event, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief RKS Bhadauria on Saturday flew in a Mirage 2000, part of a multi-aircraft sortie, with the same squadron pilots. The five-aircraft formation consisted of Mirage 2000s and Sukhoi-30 fighters.
"The IAF chief flew with pilots from the squadrons that were part of the operations. When the head of the force flies, 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," said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retd), director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.
Two years ago, the Indian Airforce crossed the border in the disputed region of Kashmir and dropped bombs to destroy a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Pakistan's Balakot. The target camp was some 80 kilometers away from the Line of Control (LoC). The strike was in response to a suicide attack by JeM terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district just days before. As many as 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were killed in the attack.
The attack that pushed India and Pakistan to the brink of war was carried out on February 14, 2019. After the attack, an aerial engagement between the two countries took place in which Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, flying an upgraded MiG-21 Bison, had fought and shot down one of the Pakistani fighter jets before he was hit and forced to eject. Pakistan returned him to India on March 1 after holding him captive for almost 60 hours.