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Updated: May 4, 2011 02:05 IST

"A highly complex operation"

K. V. Prasad
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“It was a sophisticated operation, a complex matrix,'' was how the former Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy (in picture) described the Abbottabad operation. File photo
“It was a sophisticated operation, a complex matrix,'' was how the former Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy (in picture) described the Abbottabad operation. File photo

Military aviation experts in India on Tuesday said the Abbottabad operation carried out by U.S. Special Forces was a “highly complex and sophisticated operation'' during which the plan was executed using electronic counter measures and classic low-level flying to avoid detection.

“It was a sophisticated operation and highly complex wherein each part of the plan dissected into many pieces and having back-up plans in place. It was a complex matrix,'' was how the former Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy described it.

He said the mission would have led the Americans to deploy electronic counter measures to jam all forms of communication, including radars and other equipment. The Black Hawk helicopters used for the mission were equipped with sophisticated devices to delay the ability of Pakistan to detect/intercept signals.

The former Air Chief said that while mounting such operations the planners do not take any chances, especially since helicopters are very vulnerable, and resort to jamming every air defence mechanism and communication in the range of detection.

On his part, Air Vice Marshal (retd.) Kapil Kak said the normal air defence mechanism that Pakistan would have put in place would not be located on its eastern side since the country did not anticipate threat from that direction.

He said that besides the possible jamming of radars and communication, the U.S. Special Forces would have done some ‘nap of the earth' flying to avoid any detection. The low-level terrain hugging flight by the helicopters also makes it difficult to detect movement.

In any case, he said, by all accounts the operation lasted 40 minutes and the helicopters would have taken between 15 minutes and 17 minutes to reach the destination from the Ghazi airbase in Pakistan where they took off.

Pakistan denial

However, Islamabad denied reports that the U.S. helicopters took off from the Ghazi airbase and described them as “absolutely false and incorrect.''

A Pakistan government spokesperson said that neither any base nor facility inside the country was used by the U.S. forces, or the Pakistan Army provided any operational or logistical assistance to these operations.

“U.S. helicopters entered Pakistani airspace making use of blind spots in the radar coverage due to hilly terrain. U.S. helicopters' undetected flight into Pakistan was also facilitated by the mountainous terrain, efficacious use of latest technology and ‘nap of the earth' flying techniques. It may not be realistic to draw an analogy between this undefended civilian area and some military/security installations which have elaborate local defence arrangements,'' the statement said, adding that on receipt of information regarding the incident, the PAF scrambled its jets within minutes which was corroborated by the White House.

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