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Kargil to Balakot: When Mirage 2000 pounded Pak positions

The performance of the Mirage in the Kargil conflict helped change the perception of the Indian Air Force from a 'support' player to the Indian Army to an all-out war winner.  

India's go-to aircraft

Mirage 2000 is India's go-to aircraft whenever it calls for an air strike. The French-built jet can be scrambled in less than six minutes making it India's No-1 air warrior. India had received its first batch of super fighters back in 1985 from French company Dassault.

India used the fighter jet extensively for the first time during the Kargil conflict in 1999 during 'Operation Vijay'. It employed the  'PAVEWAY' Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) in the Kargil heights flying nearly 200 missions. It was the first instance when the Indian Air Force used laser-guided missiles.

The Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 pounded Tiger Hill despite it being defended by Pakistani Stinger missiles. The Mirage also conducted air strikes in  Drass and Tololing as Pakistani positions wilted.

(Photograph:AFP)

Used during Kargil conflict

According to the Air Force, the Mirage 2000 flew 500 sorties which included 240 strike missions during the Kargil conflict. The Mirage 2000 conducted airstrikes 24x7 during the month long operation. One mirage squadron flew 274 operational sorties during the operations in the hills.

The Indian Air Force had termed the Kargil conflict as "Operation Safed Sagar" as it provided air support to ground troops. India used MiGs -  MiG-21s, MiG-23s, MiG-27s, including Jaguars to push back Pakistani soldiers. The IAF also used  Mi-8 and the Mi-17 attack choppers to repel the Pakistani army holding various positions.

The Mirage proved its worth in high-altitude bombing campaigns in low visibility helping the Indian army to gain ground control.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

IAF after Mirage 2000

Earlier in February, Mirage 2000 aircraft of the IAF had crashed at the HAL airport in Bengaluru killing a pilot on the spot and leaving another critically injured, police had said.

A rescue operation was launched by the authorities. One of the two pilots died after managing to eject from the plane but he fell on the debris itself, the sources said.

The HAL, in a statement, had said the incident occurred at 10.30 am during a sortie.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Airstrikes with Mirage

On Tuesday morning at 3am, a fleet of Mirage 2000 deep-penetration fighter jets assisted by other assets of the Indian Air Force carried out the pre-dawn strike on the biggest terror camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror outfit in Pakistan.

Mirage 2000 multi-role aircraft was chosen for the strike for its capability to hit targets with "pin-point" accuracy. The Mirage is capable of dropping a range of bombs and missiles including laser-guided bombs. 

The Mirage 2000s are fitted with Thales RDY 2 radar which can strike at targets with 100 per cent accuracy.r

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

1st since 1971 Indo-Pak war

Tuesday's strike marked the first time since the December 1971 India-Pakistan war when the Indian Air Force crossed the LoC to conduct air strikes. 

During the 71' war, MiGs were the cornerstone of the Indian Air Force which provided air cover to ground troops. 

India has the fourth largest Air Force in the world. The Indian Air Force is now preparing a doctrine for a tactical shift in its capability from defence to first-strike, in line with the "preemptive strike" conducted at Balakot.

The former IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S K Kaul, who was the architect of the airpower doctrine and purchase of Su-30 aircraft, had visualized "a total of up to 34 combat squadrons by the year 2005 of which one-third should be multirole in performance," according to a report.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Bombed JeM terror camps

The Balakot-based Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp was destroyed by the Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 was located on the bank of the Kunhar river in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and was also used by the Hizbul Mujahideen terror group.

The Balakot camp was an important training centre for the JeM and other terror organisations and it had several structures to accommodate terrorist trainees and facilities to train them.

Situated on the Kunhar river, the Balakot camp offered possibility of aquatic training to terrorists and housed hundreds of terrorists.

The camp, 20 kms from the Balakot town, was used for "battle inoculation" and its trainers were ex-officers of the Pakistan Army. Several "inspirational lectures" were delivered by JeM founder and terror mastermind Masood Azhar and other terrorist leaders on several occasions.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

Specialises in long-range targets

The Mirage was preferred as it is capable of long-range engagement of targets and the assessment was that it can record 100 per cent success rate.

India had inducted the Mirage jets around 30 years back and they are being upgraded at a cost of around Rs 20,000 crore.

(Photograph:Zee News Network)

IAF aim to conquer space

The IAF now plans to conquer "space". In a report named: IAF modernization plan 2020 presented by Air Commodore Zia ul Haque Shamsi, the  IAF planned to become a "force multiplier". The report quoted Air Chief Marshall Shashi Tyagi, the former IAF chief stating: “We are an aerospace power having trans-oceanic reach and we have started training a core group of people for the aerospace command.” 

"This transition from airpower to aerospace power would provide IAF the much needed potency and accuracy and the outcome could be a strong strategic deterrence," he added.

Tyagi claimed that, “Aerospace Power will be the primary tool for projecting power beyond the shores of the country."

(Photograph:Zee News Network)