The fighter pilots of the same Indian Air Force squadron that bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Pakistan’s Balakot two years ago carried out a long-range precision strike against a practice target, sources have said.
The practice bombing, carried out very recently, was meant to mark the second anniversary of the airstrike on February 26, 2019 in response to a suicide attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama that killed over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.
Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria also flew a multi-aircraft sortie today with the units to commemorate the occasion, the sources said.
12 Mirage 2000 of the IAF had struck the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Balakot, some 80 km from the Line of Control (LoC). The Mirage 2000 has been the go-to aircraft for the IAF for decades as it’s one of the most versatile platforms anywhere. The multirole fighter jet flew sorties in the Kargil War in 1999 as well, dropping laser-guided bombs on enemy bunkers perched atop difficult-to-reach mountaintops.
The IAF’s Mirage 2000 fighters had launched five SPICE 2000 penetrator glide bombs, which accurately struck their targets. The key Israeli air-to-surface missiles called the Crystal Maze, which would have provided a live video feed of the weapons hitting their targets, was not launched.
Unlike the Crystal Maze, the SPICE 2000 glide bombs were not configured to provide the launch aircraft a live video feed as they approached and struck their targets. IAF sources have said the SPICE 2000 “kills all soft skin targets by the blast over pressure wave within a confined room” and the penetrator is not designed to necessarily bring down the structures that it strikes.
A day after the airstrike on Balakot, a dogfight had broken out between IAF and Pakistani jets. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flying an upgraded MiG-21 Bison had engaged with one of the Pakistani fighter jets that tried to target Indian military facilities and shot it down before he was hit and forced to eject. The Indian fighter pilot spent nearly 60 hours in Pakistan’s custody before he was released.