It has been two months since India perpetrated an airstrike in Pakistani space. The dust has not settled completely, as both countries deny others’ claims of how the strike went about.
Pakistan claims Indian jets could not go far into the Pakistani airspace due to its air force’s timely response. Whereas, the Indian side is adamant to prove otherwise, claiming it not only entered into Pakistan airspace but also destroyed the militant base camps.
While Pakistani claim got much traction, especially when Indian Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, admitted that there was no casualty, be it a Pakistani soldier or citizen, in the Balakot operation.
Now, an Indian Air Force report on the Balakot airstrike has also pointed out faults in the India weapon system because of which the operation did not go as planned.
The report on ‘lessons learnt’ from airstrike in Pakistan highlighted both positive and negative aspects of the airstrike while admitting that there were several deviations from the plan and ‘some outright negatives’ too.
As for the negatives, the report’s findings verify the claims that the indigenous integration of India’s new weapon system is flawed. The IAF has acknowledged that the software changes made by the Indian technicians to integrate new weapon systems with Mirage 2000 aircraft did not completely work.
The report also noted that the fighter fleet failed to withstand the weather conditions and had trouble with the cloud cover. Moreover, the entire weapons package (payload), apart from the Spice 2000, could not be delivered, raising questions about weapon-to-target matching.
As for the indigenously integrated weapon system, an IAF official opines, “The Balakot experience underlines integration of new weapons with platforms should be done by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) despite the cost involved.”
Notably, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute made the same assessment that the precision-guided munitions (PGMs) employed in the strike were incorrectly programmed, undermining the precision in reaching the targets.
An Indian Express report states while citing an official source that one PGM could not be delivered by the Mirage 2000 aircraft because the 35-year-old legacy aircraft had a drift in the inertial navigation system.
“It meant that there was a mismatch between the location seen by the PGM and the aircraft at the point of the delivery of the PGM, which led to it not being fired from the aircraft,” says the official.