At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed when a convoy in which they were travelling was attacked by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber, who rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into one of the convoy’s buses near Awantipora on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. The mortal remains of CRPF jawans were laid to rest in their hometowns.
Succumbing to intense international pressure to check on various militant groups operating from its soil, the Pakistan government took over the administrative control of the headquarters of JeM.
By, Feb 23 2019, the Central Government took the first step in making a move on the enemy and rushed additional forces of about 10,000 central armed police force personnel and “urgently deployed” them to further fortify the Kashmir Valley amid apprehensions of reaction from Pakistan to any “indirect and direct actions” taken by the government in the wake of the Pulwama attack.
The IAF’s mission to bomb the terrorist hideout in Balakot, Pakistan, was given the codename ‘Operation Bandar’. It was a rare operation in which the IAF crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and dropped bombs on targets in Pakistani territory. Balakot is a small town located in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
The operation was carried out by Mirage-2000 fighter jets, which unleashed guided SPICE 2000 smart bombs on the camp, based 70 km inside the Line of Control (LoC), in the Pakistani province. The ground intelligence gathered and provided by the R&AW to the IAF regarding this mission and the IAF’s own Intelligence wing supplemented the data. The IAF had clarity regarding the target coordinates and their size as they applied their ISR platforms (Intelligence, Surviellance and Target acquisition).
The IAF had meticulously planned the route of the Mirage-2000 based from Gwalior to it’s target area, such that nothing could be seen suspicious either on our side or from the Pakistani side. The IAF strategists were well aware of only a 12 minute window for the Mirage 2000 to stay undetected from the Pakistani radar’s and also employed the CAP’s (Combat Air Patrol) as a diversionary tactic to fool the Pakis.
The IAF used Mirage-2000 as this aircraft has an excellent close to surface flying capability and unique electronic counter-measures to fool ground enemy radars . The Mirage-2000 were armed with Israeli-made Spice bombs (there was also the option of Crystal Maze), now of all the data related to the Spice bombs in public domain there is one excellent detail regarding how it impacts.
SPICE 2000 is not a bomb, but a guidance kit attached to a bomb, the bomb may be a regular impact blasting or a bunker buster type. The bomb may weight 1000 pounds but that does not mean it carries a explosive load of a thousand pound. It can carry a much smaller explosive load of around 400–500 pounds or even 200 pounds. Depending upon the type purchased. If India’s defence procurement was anything to go by, the SPICE units were likelier to be all-up rounds, where the bomb is already configured and attached to the guidance kit at the time of purchase. However, there is no good data related to the type of bomb used.
Remember, the motive of the Indian attack on the Balakot JeM camp was to eliminate the terrorist and their trainers and not cause wide-scale damage. The Spice 2000 bomb was purposely used in this case. Hence, depending on impact required on the target (for example, fragmentation) the explosive filling in the bomb could be even less. So there is no exact rule that a 2000-lb class bomb will wipe out half a hillside.
The Pakis showed a lot of uprooted trees and claimed the Indians destructed a small part of the jungle and were unable to hit anything. Then just why on earth did they launch a retaliatory attack in broad daylight and risk being pulled into an all out war?
There are still extremely few and concrete photographic evidence available in the public domain regardng this. But there is intelligence and investigative reports related to the success of this attack out . One interesting case is of Italian journalist Francesca Marino who claimed that the air strikes conducted by India in Pakistan’s Balakot killed anywhere between “130 and 170” Jaish-e-Mohammed “cadre”.
The Balakot strike reflected India’s approach against the employment of terrorism as a low-cost option against India. It also indicated that terrorists, terrorist infrastructure and terrorist training facilities in areas beyond LoC and International Border when employed against India, will no longer be safe haven, the attack on Balakot will continue to reiterate India’s intent to employ the most appropriate resources for the intended impact.
India has joined the list of countries along with the United States and Israel who can strike in enemy territory and avenge the death of its soldiers. It sent out a signal to adversaries that India’s response to provocation will no longer be ‘soft’ and only diplomatic.