The Indian Mirage jets have crossed the Line of Control to attack terror camps in Pakistan.
Early in the morning on Feb. 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force launched airstrikes on terror camps across the Line of Control at the border between India and Pakistan. The raid was carried out in response to the suicide attack that killed 40 CPRF (Central Reserve Police Force – the largest of India’s Central Armed Police Forces) soldiers 12 days ago.
According to the timeline provided by Shiv Aroor on India Today, the IAF’s Mirage 2000 took off from Gwailor air base carrying 2000-lb bomb and the Litening targeting pod. The strike package was supported by at least an Indian E145 Airborne Early Warning aircraft, whose role was to perform Airborne Command and Control, from Bhatinda, and Il-78 Midas aerial refuelers from Agra. A IAI Heron drone took also part in the mission, possibly collecting intelligence data along the LoC ahead of the air strike or, less likely, BDA (Battle Damage Assessment) post-strike.
The raid lasted 21 minutes: the Mirage 2000 jets crossed the LoC at low level and around 3:30AM LT the targets located near Balakot, Pakistan, were hit by Israeli SPICE 2000 EO/GPS-guided 2000-lb bombs.
With a maximum range of 200 km, the SPICE is a pretty interesting PGM (Precision Guided Munition) to be used to hit sensitive target whose coordinates are very well known ahead of the raid. Moreover, the weather is reported as overcast in the target area, hence the need for a GPS-guided bomb rather than an LGB (Laser Guided Bomb).
The thread mentioned in the following tweet provides interesting details about the weapon and its use in this specific mission:
It’s the Israeli SPICE 2000 that the IAF’s Mirage 2000s launched in numbers at the Jaish-e-Muhammad facility in Balakot, Pakistan this morning, as reported first by @VishnuNDTV. Great thread here by @zone5aviation on why this was a perfect weapon choice: https://t.co/Bm1vI9l9ED pic.twitter.com/M5J7AB4aU7
— Livefist (@livefist) February 26, 2019
The Pakistan Air Force scrambled its F-16s following the intrusion.
Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow.
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 25, 2019
Later another Indian Air Force E145 AEW could be tracked online as it probably provided airspace surveillance in the aftermath of the raid:
Airborne Early Warning eyes in the sky up over New Delhi
— CivMilAir ✈ (@CivMilAir) February 26, 2019
A Pakistani drone was shot down later on Feb. 26, as it conducted a reconnaissance mission near the border.
A Pakistani drone on a reconnaissance mission was shot down early this morning in Kutch area of Gujarat by the Indian Army using Israeli Spyder air defence missile system, sources said.
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) February 26, 2019
Needless to say, according to the Indians, the airstrike was a success whereas to the Pakistan Armed Forces spokesperson, the Mirage 2000 did not hit their targets.
Payload of hastily escaping Indian aircrafts fell in open. pic.twitter.com/8drYtNGMsm
— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 26, 2019
We will update this post as soon as new details about the raid emerge.