According to The Hindu, India’s MiG-21s were the first to intercept the intruding Pakistani fighter jets because the Su-30s were deployed further behind the border due to a lack of hardened aircraft shelters at bases near the front line.
Anonymous officials say the shelters are being built but it will take three to four years to complete as the project was only approved in 2017 due to bureaucratic delays.
“Owing to the bureaucratic delays, we could not develop blast pens for Su-30 MKIs near the Line of Control [LoC]. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) sanctioned the project only at the end of 2017,” the source said. “The project will take three or four years to complete.”
Noteworthy the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had already highlighted the need for shelters in a 2016 report. “Hardened shelters are not available for even the limited numbers of aircraft available with the service.”
As we have already explained Pakistan and India both carried out aerial bombing missions last week, including a clash on Feb. 27, that saw an Indian pilot shot down over the disputed region of Kashmir in an incident that alarmed global powers and sparked fears of a war.
A Pakistan military spokesman told reporters on Feb. 27 that Pakistani jets “locked” on Indian targets to demonstrate Pakistan’s capacity to strike back at India, but then chose to fire in an empty field where there would be no casualties.
Pakistan said its mission on Feb. 27 was in retaliation for India violating its airspace and sovereignty a day earlier, when Indian Mirage 2000 fighter jets bombed a forest area near the northern city of Balakot.
India said it struck at militant training camps, but Islamabad denied any such camps existed, as did some villagers in the area.
The fresh anti-militancy drive was launched after a Kashmiri suicide bomber, a member of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group, killed 40 Indian paramilitary police on Feb. 14.
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said on Mar. 3 that it is investigating if Pakistan had used the F-16 fighter to shoot down an Indian MiG-21, potentially violating Washington’s military sale agreements that limit how Pakistan can use the planes, as the stand-off between the nuclear-armed Asian neighbors appeared to be easing.
While Pakistan has denied using F-16 jets during a dogfight that downed an Indian Mig-21 warplane over Kashmir on Feb. 27, it has not specified which planes it used, though it assembles Chinese-designed JF-17 fighter jets on its soil.
However according to idrw.org, “a lone A-50 PHALCON AWACS flying well within Indian territory near state of Jammu and Kashmir was first to detect close to 24 PAF jets coming towards LOC. 3 F-16s before the LOC breach happened they were warned by IAF which they chose to ignore and invading aircraft entered nearly 3kms inside the Indian side of LOC and tried to target key Indian military installations but due to early detection close to six more IAF jets were scrambled and were already in the air.
“The whole sequence of events from their takeoffs from their forward base till the time they flew back to their base was recorded by the powerful Israeli Radar in the sky. F-16 going down and Mig-21 which was also later shot down was also recorded by the Airborne system which will be playing a key role in establishing facts of the whole sequence of events which took place that day.
“Indian officials have already submitted this key Electronic Radar Recordings of the F-16 breaching LOC and one being shot down with American interlocutors who will be sharing the same with US Administration.”
The last chapter (for now) of the saga has been written on Mar. 4 when a Pakistani drone was reportedly shot down by an IAF Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet after being detected inside Indian Airspace, in Rajasthan’s Bikaner sector.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force, Indian Air Force and VargA Own work via Wikipedia
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