With the Balakot air strike , India has clearly demonstrated “its strong will against terrorism” and now “we do not hesitate to cross the border to protect India against terrorism”, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday on the first anniversary of the air strike .
“Our Government has adopted a different approach from earlier governments. Now we do not hesitate to cross the border to protect India against terrorism ,” he said on Twitter.
Stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought about a change in India’s approach against terrorism and ways to counter terror, Mr. Singh said, “The surgical strikes of 2016 and the Balakot air strikes of 2019 are testimony to this change. This is certainly a new and confident India in making.”
To mark the anniversary, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria flew a MiG-21 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) 51 Squadron from Srinagar Air Base.
To mark the anniversary, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria flew in a five aircraft mission at Srinagar Air Base along with aircrew from squadrons that had participated in the operations on February 26 and 27 last year. He flew in a MiG-21 Type 69 aircraft along with the Commanding Officer of 51 Squadron, Group Captain Kamran Nazeerin, in a formation comprising of one MiG-21, two Mirage-2000s and two Sukhoi-30 MKIs, the IAF said in a statement.
In a pre-dawn attack on February 26, 2019, 12 IAF Mirage-2000 fighter jets struck the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot inside Pakistan with SPICE-2000 precision guided glide bombs. A day after, on February 27, 2019, an aerial engagement ensured after Pakistan Air Force jets came close to the Line of Control (LoC) and attempted to bomb Indian army installations. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in a MiG-21 Bison fighter jet shot a Pakistan F-16 but was also shot down and landed in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). He was handed over by Pakistan to India at the Wagah-Attari border crossing on March 1.
The IAF has since identified Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles as top priorities. ACM Bhadauria and former IAF chief ACM B.S. Dhanoa have stated that the soon to be inducted Rafale jets armed with Meteor BVRs and S-400 air defence systems would significantly tilt regional military balance in India’s favour.