Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa
Technology was on India's side in the Balakot air strikes and the results would have been further tilted in the country's favour if the Rafale jets were inducted on time, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on Monday. The Indian Air Force chief was addressing a gathering at a seminar on aerospace power of the future and the impact of technology.
"In the Balakot operation, we had technology on our side, and we could launch precision stand of weapons with great accuracy. In the subsequent engagements, we came out better because we upgraded our MiG-21s, Bisons, and Mirage-2000 aircraft," he said.
"The results would have been further skewed in our favour had we inducted the Rafale aircraft in time," Dhanoa said.
In March, Dhanoa said India will induct French-made Rafale fighter jets in September. His statement, the first after captured Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was released by Pakistan on March 1, was an indication that India would soon get advanced fighter jets to increase its offensive and defensive capabilities.
India has ordered at least 36 Dassault Aviation-manufactured Rafale fighter aircraft to update its arsenal in the wake of increased threat from cross-border terror attacks.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel and injured dozens of others in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14. In response to the attack, India launched a counter-terror operation and conducted air strike in Balakot inside Pakistani territory.
IAF claimed it destroyed a major terror camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed - the terrorist organisation which took the responsibility of the Pulwama attack. However, Pakistan accepted that Indian fighter jets did enter into Balakot, but denied any damage as claimed by India.
A day after India's air strike, the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) even tried to carry out a Balakot-like attack against Indian military targets but failed miserably.
"On February 27, the Pakistani Air Force with its package of more than 20 planes led by the American F-16s along with the French Mirage-IIIs and Chinese JF-17, fired 11 H-4 1,000 kg bombs from ranges of around 50 km inside their territory at military targets at three locations but failed to hit any of them," news agency ANI quoted government sources as saying.