Chennai: “Rafale should be in our inventory by September,” said Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa during a media briefing today in Sulur Air Base.
“Balakot operation was a planned one. But, when an adversary strikes without notice, every available aircraft of IAF responds irrespective of which aircraft it is. All of ours are capable of fighting the enemy. The Mig 21 Bison is very capable as it has been upgraded. It has better radar, air-to air missiles and better weapons systems. We have managed to hit the target. Why would Pakistan respond if we didn’t hit our target? If we plan to hit the target, we will hit it. Why would Pakistan Prime Minister have to respond, if we dropped bombs in the jungles,” he added.
Explaining about Wing Commander Abhinandan, Dhanoa said, “Post ejection, he has undergone medical tests. Whatever treatment required, will be given. Once we get his medical fitness, he will get into fighter cockpit. Whether he flies again or not depends on his medical tests.” Regarding the casualties in the operation, he said, “The air force doesn’t calculate casualty numbers, the government does that.”
Meanwhile, Pakistani troops violated ceasefire today by targeting forward posts and villages along the Line of Control in Akhnoor sector here, breaking a two-day lull in cross-border skirmishes, officials said.
“The firing from across the border started around 3 hours and stopped at 6.30 hours,” a defense spokesman said. He said Pakistan initiated the unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing mortar shells and small arms on forward posts and villages.
“Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively,” the spokesman said adding there was no report of any casualty on Indian side. Barring a two-hour cross-border firing in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district Saturday afternoon, the guns had fallen silent all along the LoC since Friday night. The lull in the cross-border firing had come as a major relief to the border residents, especially in the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri, where Pakistan had violated ceasefire for over 50 times, killing four persons including three members of a family and injuring several others.
The ceasefire violations by Pakistan witnessed a spurt after India’s air strike at Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on 26 February in a preemptive action following the terrorist group’s 14 February suicide bombing in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Amid heightened tensions, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat visited Jammu-based White Knight Corps on Saturday and reviewed the operational preparedness of the forces in the Corps Zone in view of the current situation along the LoC and the International Border.