Military Aviation

“Our jets used clouds to hide from Pakistani Radar during Balakot airstrikes,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said

Divya Spandana, social media director for India’s main opposition party, the Congress Party, mocked Modi, tweeting that the ability to use radar to detect planes, “cloud or no cloud,” has been around for decades.

Speaking to India’s News Nation TV channel on May, 11, 2019 Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said heavy rain on the night of Feb. 25 had complicated planning for the Feb. 26 Balakot airstrikes, even prompting military planners to consider rescheduling the operation. He added, however, that he had to use his non-expert “raw vision” about using the clouds to India’s advantage to dispel defence experts’ doubts and push forward with the attack.

“The clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars and provide us much needed cover,” he said.

“At around 1:30 am, we started the movement, at 2:55 we okayed it and at 3:20 am I got the report about the airstrikes. There was so much movement in air and water that it confused Pakistan,” the prime minister claimed.

Divya Spandana, social media director for India’s main opposition party, the Congress Party, mocked Modi, tweeting that the ability to use radar to detect planes, “cloud or no cloud,” has been around for decades.

As reported by Sputnik News, Modi’s remarks did not go over well among other detractors either. Some users, including the prime minister’s other opponents in India’s ongoing elections, suggested that his evident lack of knowledge about how radar technology works is a serious national security risk.

Others couldn’t help but chuckle, sarcastically quipping that their “cloud scientist” PM’s remarks were an “important piece of tactical information that will be critical when planning future air strikes,” or suggesting that Modi may have been “high.”

As we have already explained Pakistan and India both carried out aerial bombing missions in February, 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 Air Force (IAF) Mirage 2000 fighter jets bombed a forest area near the northern city of Balakot.

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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.

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: Indian Air Force, U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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