Post Pulwama attack, IAF tweaked planned Vayu Shakti exercise in Pokhran on hints from govt for cross-LoC strikes

  • The IAF made changes in the format of its exercise after receiving an indication that it may have to carry out a strike

  • At the exercise, a fleet of Mirage 2000 aircraft had demonstrated its capability to smash enemy assets.

  • The IAF hit the JeM training facility using S-2000 precision-guided bombs fired from the Mirage 2000s

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force made certain changes to the format of its planned exercise in Rajasthan's Pokhran desert — close to the Pakistan border — on 16 February after the Pulwama attack on 14 February, official sources said on Monday. This was while the government considered carrying out an air strike across the Line of Control (LoC), which it did 10 days later.

The exercise 'Vayu Shakti' involving over 140 fighter jets, military helicopters as well as a variety of missiles demonstrated the capability for short-notice missions with pinpoint accuracy.

 Post Pulwama attack, IAF tweaked planned Vayu Shakti exercise in Pokhran on hints from govt for cross-LoC strikes

File photo of a Mirage 2000. PTI

Although it was a scheduled exercise, the Indian Air Force (IAF) top brass knew the government was considering using air power to avenge the Pulwama attack on 14 February, making the drill a dress rehearsal for an aerial strike to target Pakistan-based JeM, top government sources said.

They said the IAF even incorporated certain changes in the format of the exercise after receiving an indication from the government about a possible role for the IAF to carry out a strike across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

Ten days later, in a well coordinated operation, a fleet of 12 Mirage 2000 aircraft supported by other platforms struck inside Pakistan, targeting the biggest terrorist training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.

The IAF got the indication that the government may likely task the air force for a precision strike targeting a Pakistan-based terror outfit, the sources said.

In his address at the inauguration of the exercise, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had said the IAF was ever prepared to deliver an "appropriate response" as assigned by India's political leadership.

From his speech, it was not clear then whether IAF was considering such a strike on Pakistani soil.

At the exercise, a fleet of Mirage 2000 aircraft had demonstrated its capability to smash enemy assets.

The Mirage 2000 aircraft used in the strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror was chosen because of its ability to hit long-range targets with "pin-point" accuracy and drop a range of bombs and missiles including laser-guided ones, sources said.

The IAF hit the JeM training facility using S-2000 precision-guided bombs fired from the Mirage-2000 fighter jets.

The sources said the strike produced intended results.

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Updated Date: Mar 05, 2019 09:04:09 IST