Press Trust of India
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI — Technology was on India’s side in the Balakot air strikes, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said on Monday, asserting that the results would have been further tilted in the country’s favour if Rafale jets were inducted in time.
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.
The Air Force struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area on February 26, in response to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
The Pakistan Air Force retaliated the next day by unsuccessfully targeting various military installations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dhanoa said in his speech, “In the proposed induction of the Rafale and S-400 surface-to-air missile system, in the next two-four years, once again the technological balance will shift in our favour, like it was in 2002 during Operation Parakaram during the last stand-off.”
India inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore. The delivery of the jets — capable of carrying a range of potent weapons and missiles — is scheduled to begin from September.
In October last year, India and Russia signed a multibillion dollar deal for S-400 ‘Triumf’ long-range air defence missile systems. It has the capability to destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
The seminar on ‘Aerospace power in the 2040s: Impact of Technology’ was held at Subroto Park to mark the birth centenary of the late Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh.
The event was hosted by the IAF along with the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS), an autonomous defence research and analysis body.
“Among all arms of the military, technology affects us the most.. land forces mainly fight with men, naval and air force officers operate machines and in the Air Force this technology has to be packed in smaller machines and subject to extreme temperature and pressure conditions,” the IAF chief said.
And, air power is more sensitive to technological change, he said.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week complimented the IAF for its “flawless execution” of the February 26 Balakot operation and subsequent thwarting of the Pakistani response while addressing top IAF commanders.
At the event on April 11, Dhanoa emphasised on further enhancing the IAF’s capability in the field of space, cyber, artificial intelligence and drone technology to further boost its overall combat capability.
Various IAF veterans, at the seminar paid tribute to Singh, who led the Indian Air Force during the 1965 India-Pakistan war, died in September 2017 at the age of 98.
An icon in the country’s military history, Singh led a fledgling IAF in the 1965 Indo-Pak war when he was just 44 years old.
Born on April 15, 1919, in Lyallpur in Punjab in undivided India, his father, grandfather and great grandfather had served in the cavalry.
“This event is a fitting tribute to IAF Marshal Arjan Singh,” Dhanoa said.
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