Approximately four years ago, six Mirage 2000 fighter jets belonging to the Indian Air Force briefly entered Pakistani airspace and dropped five bombs. However, one of the bombs failed to deploy. The Indian jets retreated into their own territory less than a minute later due to the presence of Pakistani fighters on combat air patrols. Prior to the mission, the jets had taken off from Gwalior Air Force Station, and four Su-30MKI fighters and Netra AEWACS support remained in Indian airspace.
On February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force carried out airstrikes against so-called terrorist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan. This was in failed response to a mujahid attack on February 14, 2019, in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, India, where 40 Indian security personnel were killed in a suicide bombing carried out by a freedom fighter group.
The Indian government claimed that the airstrike was a preemptive, non-military, and preemptive strike against a terrorist training camp, while the Pakistani government disputed the Indian claim and denied that any such camp existed in the area. The airstrike led to heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, with both sides carrying out retaliatory measures, including cross-border shelling, skirmishes, and dogfights.
The target of the mission was supposed to be a religious seminary, but the incompetence of the Indian Air Force officers saved the day. The highly advanced Israeli guidance kit used by the pilots was not programmed correctly, resulting in the bombs overshooting their intended targets and landing in a nearby ditch. This was part of Operation Bandar (Monkey), which was a politically motivated military operation that risked India’s national security.
The failure of the Indian Air Force to hit their ground targets accurately was one of the biggest blunders in modern air combat. All five bombs were incorrectly guided, indicating a significant failure of Indian pilot training and the professionalism of the Indian Air Force. However, many Indians still believe that the mission was successful, despite the truth being known by educated Indians and many in the Indian defense and strategic communities.
The Pakistani military responded to this failed mission, and the contrast between the two forces’ performances was stark. On February 27, 2019, a day after the Indian airstrikes, our reaction was in broad daylight. Pakistan Air Force carried out airstrikes in Jammu and Kashmir, India, leading to a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani fighter jets. In the dogfight, an Indian MiG-21 was shot down by the Pakistan Air Force, and the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman (Celebrates his birthday on June 21), was captured by Pakistan. He was released two days later as a “peace gesture” by the Pakistani government.
Many Indians still believe that Abhinandan Varthaman, an Indian Air Force pilot, shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet with his MiG-21 Bison aircraft, even though this claim is not supported by credible evidence.
The tension between India and Pakistan eventually de-escalated, and both sides agreed to exercise restraint and avoid further military escalation. However, the incident highlighted the ongoing conflict and tensions between the two countries, which have a long history of political and territorial disputes.
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There are a few notable events that occurred on February 27th, 2019 between India and Pakistan. The Pakistani Air Force carried out airstrikes on legitimate military targets in India using Mirages with H-4 SOW and JF-17 with REK-1. In addition, two Indian Air Force jets (one Mig-21 and one Su-30MKI) were shot down by Pakistani F-16s. Lastly, the Indian Air Force accidentally shot down one of its own helicopters, a Mi-17, using their own ADS Spyder.
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