Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Monday said that the target was 'clearly hit' when Indian Air Force (IAF) struck Jaish-e-Mohammed’s terror camp in Balakot on February 26. However, the IAF chief clarified that they don't count number of casualties and it will be given by the government. "We hit our target. IAF is not in a postilion to clarify the number of casualties. The government will clarify that. We don't count human casualties, we count what targets we have hit or not," he said while addressing a press conference in Coimbatore. This was the first press briefing by the Air Chief Marshal after the air strike across LoC in which around 250 terrorists were reportedly killed.
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa: We hit our target. The air force doesn’t calculate casualty numbers, the government does that. pic.twitter.com/TnNXiQ9DM9— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2019
When asked about why the Indian Air Force used MiG-21 fighter jet during 'aerial engagement' with Pakistani forces, Dhanoa said every available aircraft is used when adversary strikes.
“One is a planned operation in which you plan & carry out. But when an adversary does a strike on you, every available aircraft goes in, irrespective of which aircraft it is. All aircraft are capable of fighting the enemy,” he said.
Dhanoa said that Mig-21 is a capable aircraft as it has been upgraded recently. “Mig-21 Bison is a capable aircraft, it has been upgraded, it has better radar, air-to air missiles and better weapons system," he said.
He also said that the Rafale jet should come into India's inventory by September.
Replying to media reports that claim that no one died in the Balakot strike, Dhanoa said that why would Pakistan have responded if IAF fighter jets dropped bombs in the jungles. “The target has been clearly amplified by Foreign Secretary in his statement. If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target, otherwise, why would he (Pak PM) have responded, if we dropped bombs in the jungles why would he respond,” the IAF chief said.
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on air strikes: The target has been clearly amplified by FS in his statement. If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target, otherwise why would he (Pak PM) have responded, if we dropped bombs in the jungles why would he respond. pic.twitter.com/X4Y0Jdopr6— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2019
Expressing his happiness over the safe return of IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was captured by Pakistan after his plane crashed on the other side of LoC, Dhanoa said he will fly fighter jet when is medically fit. “Whether he (Wing Commander Abhinandan) flies or not depends on his medical fitness. That's why post ejection, he has undergone medical check. Whatever treatment required, will be given. Once we get his medical fitness, he will get into fighter cockpit,” Dhanoa said.
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa:Whether he (Wing Commander #Abhinandan) flies or not depends on his medical fitness. That's why post ejection, he has undergone medical check. Whatever treatment required, will be given. Once we get his medical fitness, he will get into fighter cockpit pic.twitter.com/2ykp5aon3h— ANI (@ANI) March 4, 2019
The Indian Air Force on February 26 had conducted an air strike on a JeM terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot to avenge the Pulwama attack in which over 40 CRPF personnel were killed. It was the first time in more than a decade that Indian jets had crossed the LoC to strike against Pakistan.
Following India’s air strike, the Pakistani Air Force had also violated Indian air space and dropped bombs at a military post in India, but its jets were scrambled back by IAF. The Indian Air Force even shot down a US built F-16 fighter jet used by the Pakistani Air Force to strike India.