The review of the Indian Air Force on the Balakot strikes conducted on 26th February has shown that the aircraft hit 5 of the 6 designated mean points of impact (DMPI). These included the buildings of the Jash-e-Mohamad terror training complexes. The review focused on the strength, weakness and lessons that are learnt from the air operations. It is one of the most successful air strikes by India.
The review has acknowledged that better weapons could be used to target the spots and more effective feedback loop should be established to win the propaganda of war. The review also highlighted that the attacks were positive in terms of maintaining surprises, security of operations, pilot proficiency and accuracy of weapons used. It has therefore unpublished details of the operation on debriefing and assessment.
The sources have mentioned that the operation had planned to use the Israeli Spice 2000 Penetrator type PGM (precision-guided munitions) to hit the targets in Pakistan. Five of them had hit the right targets or designated mean point of impact in the Balakot complex. One of the PGM sources also said that the Mirage 2000 was not left because it was object of national pride. It was the part of the 35 year old legacy and was used in the inertial navigation system.
IAF also carried the Crystal Maze AGM 142 munitions along with the Spice 2000 to hit the targets of the terrorist group. The Crystal Maze PGM however could not be fired because of the weather conditions. There was heavy cloud cover which did not allow the pilots to have a line of sight to shoot the missile in the designated targets.
The sources said, “In hindsight, we achieved our aim, hitting five of the six DMPI. Only one was unused. But considering the nature of the propaganda war that needed to be won, we could have used a weapon which would have flattened the target and we could have also sent a platform that gets us clear images or video of the destruction,”.
The IAF has Spice 2000 instead of Spice 2000 Mark 84, in the inventory which could help an attack from standoff distance. One of the stipulated rules for the operation was not to cross the LOC, although some Mirage 2000 aircraft which had the Crystal Maze missile did get through to the other side with a better line of sight.
The claims by the government that the strikes were a success have finally been proved through this review. The achievement of the IAF in keeping the surprise element intact was the major highlight of the review. The selection of targets and means of operation were meticulously planned by the Indian Air force. The IAF has concluded that the security maintained in the operation was of the highest order with no breach of communication networks despite the fact that more than 6,000 people were involved in the entire operation process. The actual target at Balakot was known to less than 10 persons in Air Headquarters. The strike was in retaliation of the Pulwama attack and it sent a strong message to the terrorist groups. The Government was successful in completing the operations and also received international appreciation.