Defence Scan by Air Mshl (retd) PK Roy

Map Source: Indian Express Feb 27, 2019 
In the early hours of February 26, 2019, 12 Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft of the IAF supported by Su-30s, IL-78M Air to Air Refuellers, ‘Netra’ Airborne Electronic and Control aircraft and the Heron drones, launched a punitive airstrike on JeM terror training camps at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The camp was headed and controlled by Yusuf Azhar, brother-in-law of JeM chief Masood Azhar. A large number of terrorists had withdrawn and assembled at the camp from their staging areas in anticipation of Indian action after the Pulwama terror attack that had killed over 40 CRPF jawans. Reports indicate that the casualties were as high as 300 and included relatives of Masood Azhar. India has termed the strike as a “non-military, pre-emptive” strike based on ‘credible intelligence’ as the terrorists based in the camp were being trained for another suicide bombing in India. This air strike clearly demonstrated the Indian resolve to take on the Pak based terrorist. Pakistan has called the strike an ‘act of intrusion’ and claimed that the bombs fell on a mountainside without damaging the infrastructure at Balakot. It has dubbed it an act of aggression.
On February 27, 2019, Pakistan responded by using its Air Force to target Indian military installations. Indian aircraft which were on a high state of readiness, detected the Pak intrusion and responded quickly. In the ensuing aerial combat, one Pakistan Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft was shot down and the pilot was seen to have ejected on the Pakistan side. In this engagement, IAF unfortunately lost one MiG 21 aircraft. The pilot is missing in action. Pak Prime Minister, in an address to the nation initially said that they had shot down two Indian fighter aircraft and that two Indian pilots were in Pakistan custody. However, later Pakistan admitted that they had shot down only one aircraft and only one pilot was in their custody. The Ministry of External Affairs has lodged a strong protest with the acting High Commissioner of Pakistan against unprovoked act of aggression by Pakistan against India. It also handed over a dossier on “specific details” of involvement of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in the Pulwama terror attack on CRPF convoy as also the presence of terrorist camps in Pakistan.
On the diplomatic front too, India launched an aggressive offence against Pakistan after the attack and highlighted its role in using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. It has also demanded Pakistan to initiate immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from its territories. International community has taken a strong note of the situation and urged both sides to diffuse the situation while supporting India’s right to self-defence and calling out Pakistan to stop providing safe havens to terror groups. USA, UK and France have moved a proposal urging UN to black list Azhar. It is to be seen how China reacts to the proposal.
The DAC has accorded approval for acquisition of three Cadet Training ships for the Indian Navy at a cost of about Rs 2700 Crores. These ships would be utilised to provide basic sea training for officer cadets including under trainee women officers. These ships would also have the capability to undertake Hospital Ship duties, provide Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, undertake Search and Rescue missions and Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations.
On February 25, 2019, the Prime Minister dedicated the eagerly awaited NWM to the Armed Forces. The memorial built in the vicinity of the India Gate, New Delhi seamlessly merges and complements the hexagon around the existing Chhatri (canopy), the imposing India Gate and the majestic Rajpath. It commemorates the supreme sacrifice of 25,942 Indian soldiers who laid down their life for the sovereignty and integrity of India, in the post-independence period. It also honours the bravery and gallantry of our 21 Brave Hearts who are the proud recipient of our nation’s highest gallantry award—the Param Vir Chakra. The design of the Memorial has a layout comprising four concentric circles, namely, the ‘Amar Chakra’ or Circle of Immortality, the ‘Veerta Chakra’ or Circle of Bravery, the ‘Tyag Chakra’ or Circle of Sacrifice, and the ‘Rakshak Chakra’ or Circle of Protection.
On February 27, 2019, at 1010 hrs a Mi-17 V5 helicopter of IAF crashed near Budgam, J&K. The helicopter had taken off from Srinagar airfield for a routine mission. All six air warriors on board the helicopter, suffered fatal injuries. A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the accident.

On February 26, 2019, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired indigenously developed QRSAM from ITR Chandipur, off the Odisha Coast. The two missiles were tested for different altitude and conditions. All the mission objectives were met. Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated DRDO on the successful test flights and said the indigenously developed state-of-the-art QRSAM will significantly boost the defence capabilities of Indian armed forces. n