Balakot major shift in Govt’s handing of terrorist attacks

Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman leads MiG-21 Bison formation at IAF parade

October 08, 2019 10:59 am | Updated 11:11 pm IST - Hindon

IAF chief R.K.S. Bhadauria at Hindon Air Base during IAF Day parade, on Tuesday.

IAF chief R.K.S. Bhadauria at Hindon Air Base during IAF Day parade, on Tuesday.

The Pulwama terror strike is a stark reminder of the persistent threat to defence installations and Balakot was a “major shift in the government's way of handling terrorist attacks,” Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria said on Tuesday while Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and other Balakot pilots led the fly past at the Air Force Day parade.

“The strategic relevance of this [ Balakot strike ] is the resolve of the political leadership to punish the perpetrators of terrorism and the capability of the IAF to execute a strike inside Pakistan. This has been a major shift in the government's way of handling terrorists attacks,” he said in a written message on Air Force Day.

ACM Bhadauria took over as the IAF Chief on September 30.

Growing challenges

Addressing the force at the Air Force Day parade at Hindon, the ACM said the geo-political environment has been rapidly changing in recent years and “uncertainties have created numerous challenges to national security.”

“In the year gone by, the IAF has demonstrated its resolve and capability in punishing the perpetrators of terrorism and we need to be ever prepared to meet any contingency that challenges the defence of our country.”

At the flypast during the parade to mark the 87th Air Force Day celebrations, Wg Cdr Abhinandan, who was awarded Vir Chakra for shooting down a Pakistani F-16, led a Mig-21 Bison formation.

Five gallantry awardees, who took part in Balakot air strike, led an Avenger formation comprising three Mirage 2000s and two Su-30MKI aircraft. The Mirages were piloted by Sqn. Ldr. Bhujadey, Gp. Capt. P. Raj and Wg. Cdr. Basoya. The Su-30s were piloted by Wg. Cdr. K.P. Singh and Sqn. Ldr. Parshuram.

At the parade, Unit citations were given to 51 squadron, 9 squadron and 601 Signals unit, all of which played a role in the Balakot airstike. Wg. Cdr. Varthaman was then posted to 51 Squadron based in Srinagar.

Wg. Cdr. Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan after his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet went down across the Line of Control (LoC) on February 27 and returned three days later, was awarded Vir Chakra (VrC), the country’s third-highest gallantry award.


ACM Bhadauria stressed on indigenisation and stated that to achieve “true strategic autonomy, we need to focus on indigenous design and manufacturing.” In this direction, he said the IAF “will soon induct the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) made in India” which will join the Advanced Light Helicopter in service. The LCH is at the Limited Series Production stage and will be inducted soon while the LUH successfully completed high altitude weather trials last month.

The recently inducted AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopters made their debut at the flypast.

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