It has been a year since the Balakot airstrike, a momentous day for the Indian Air Force (IAF) for carrying out a complex mission under extremely challenging conditions. With the help of reliable intelligence from the assets of the Afghan intelligence network and India's own surveillance, the IAF was able to attack the terror camps in Balakot.

Commemorating the IAF on the historic win a year ago, the government of India applauded the officers' bravery and sacrifice. The 2019 Balakot airstrike was carried out in the early hours of February 26 when the Indian warplanes dropped bombs in the town of Balakot to wipe out Jaish-e-Muhammed's (JeM) terror training camps.

"On this day, the IAF salutes the spirit, tenacity and sacrifice of its brave Air Warriors and assure the Nation of its unstinted resolve. The IAF stands shoulder to shoulder with other Defence Services in discharge of its sacred duty of defending the nation's sovereignty and integrity," the government of India said in a statement.

Balakot airstrike
Balakot airstrike

The surgical strike had been carried out deep inside Pakistan's territory and the Pakistan Air Force was not ready to respond. In fact, Pakistan had no idea about the strike until after the Indian army had exited their territory.

Recalling events of Balakot airstrike

Speaking on the first anniversary of Balakot airstrike, Retd. Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, who led IAF's Western Command during the operation, credited the intelligence given by R&AW was excellent and specific.

"It had good coordinates that is what is required. It had good imagery and it had good ground shots of the target. Having done that, we, of course, went ahead and had a look at it with our ISR platforms and satellites to reconfirm that all locations are correct," Kumar told ANI.

Air Marshal C Harikumar of the Indian Air Force (IAF)
Air Marshal C Harikumar, who as commanding offer of the Western Air Command was in charge of Operation Bandar that bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility in Balakot. Both he and his boss Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa have since retired from service.Twitter

Balakot airstrike was an apt response to Pakistan's Pulwama terror attack on February 14 last year, where 40 CRPF jawans were martyred.

"We had very good intelligence of a lot of people. I can't people. I can't put a figure but taking around 500-600 people (in the Balakot camp) is a good guess. If you look at Balakot, we are almost a year down the line and we have not had a major terror attack. The message is also clear that the use of the Air Force is not escalatory. The government has the will and wherewithal to take actions as quickly. Next time it happens, we will hit them even harder," Kumar was quoted as saying.

In the Balakot airstrike, a total of 16 aircraft, six each armed with Spice 2000 and Crystal Maze missiles, flew into deep into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and attacked the terror camps.