26th February 2021 marks the two-year anniversary of the Balakot Air Strike that the Indian Air Force IAF) did across the border. The airstrikes were carried out by the Indian Air Force in retaliation to the deadly Pulwama terror attack.
In the early morning hours of February 26, 2019, fighter jets of the Indian Air Force crossed the line of control and bombed a large Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) biggest camp near Balakot town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s military was quick to announce the airstrike in the morning of 26 February, describing the Indian planes as dropping their payload in an uninhabited wooded hilltop area near Balakot and denied any damage.
India, confirming the airstrike later the same day, characterized it to be a preemptive strike directed against a terrorist training camp, and causing the deaths of a “large number” of terrorists.
Why Indian Air Force strike in Balakot?
The Indian Air force carried out Balakot Airstrikes to avenge the deadly Pulwama Terror Attack which took place on February 14, 2019. Pulwama terror attack claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel of the 76th Battalion and injured many others.
On February 14th, 2019, the convoy of vehicles carrying Indian security personnel on the Jammu–Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber at Lethapora (near Awantipora) in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. This attack was the deadliest terror attack on India’s state security personnel in Kashmir since 1989.
The suicide bomber was identified as, Adil Ahmad Dar—who was a local Kashmiri youth from the Pulwama district. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Blakot Air Strike: The IAF heroics
Indian media claimed to have confirmed from official sources that twelve Mirage 2000 jets were involved in the operation. The Indian Express further reported that the Mirage 2000s were carrying SPICE 2000 & Popeye precision-guided munitions and that they were supported by four Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Netra, and Phalcon airborne early warning and control aircraft, an IAI Heron UAV, and two Ilyushin Il-78 aerial refueling aircraft.
IAF’s Mirage-2000 jets which were deployed in the mission dropped the laser-guided bombs, which weighed about 1000 kg. The mission is reported to have an estimated casualty of 200-300 terrorists.
The airstrikes were the first time since the 1971 India-Pakistan war that warplanes from either nation crossed the line of control.