New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) used Mirage 2000 fighter jets to bomb Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror pad in Pakistan’s Balakot because it is the best aircraft in the fleet with precision strike capability.
The success of the operation not only shows the IAF’s capability but it is also proof of the country’s intelligence gathering set up, said an official, explaining that surgical strikes against terrorists cannot achieve desired results unless they are backed by hardcore real-time intelligence.
This is not the first time the Mirages have come handy for the IAF in dealing with Pakistan. The IAF used precision bombing for the first time during the Kargil conflict when the aircraft was hurriedly improvised to fire guided bombs.
The ability to deliver precision bomb was the reason it was chosen over Russian Su-30 MKIs.
Officials said that a precision strike at night meant that a similar mission in the day could have taken lesser time. Unlike day, the fighters cannot fly in close proximity with each other at night.
The fact that the aircraft spent 21 minutes in Pakistani air space was a remarkable feat as one minute is equal to 17 km at attack speed. The duration of the operation might appear short in real terms but that is a lot of time in enemy air space.
The fighter jets were backed by Emb 145 early warning plane which was deployed to pick up emerging threat at a large distance and alert the attacking pilots.
They would have picked up any scrambling of fighters by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). As it turned out, before the PAF fighters could react, the Indian jets had accomplished their mission.
The use of mid-air refueller is also an essential part of the mission as the distance to the target might not have been much, but if the fighter jets came in contact with the enemy aircraft they could have run low on fuel.
The officials said that the IAF team was able to deceive the enemy and surprise its air defence systems. There are several tactics like flying low, employing jammers and decoys.
The Mirage 2000 fire a range of Western weapons. After the upgrade, the Mirages have Mica air to air multi-mission missiles and a range of precision guided bombs including Israeli spice. It could have been delivered by either EO (electro optics) or IR (infra red) controls.
The Mirage 2000s were inducted in the mid-1980s. In 2011, India had signed a $2.5 billion for upgrading 51 Mirage. The upgradation programme is still going on.