Pakistani fighter planes did not enter into Indian airspace after the Balakot airstrike, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa on Monday said while asserting that the Indian Air Force ‘achieved its military objective’ in the operation across the Line of Control (LoC) while Pakistan did not.
“I want to make it clear that Pakistan never entered the Indian airspace after the Balakot operation. None of them let me tell you crossed the Line of Control," Dhanoa said while addressing a press conference held during a day-long event at the Gwalior Air Base to mark 20 years of the Kargil War.
"Our objective was to strike in Balakot and we achieved it. Their (Pakistan) objective was to strike our Army areas and they could not. We achieved our military objective while they did not achieve theirs," he added.
The IAF had struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot area on February 26 in response to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack which claimed lives of 40 CRPF personnel. The Pakistan Air Force retaliated the next day by unsuccessfully targeting various military installations in Jammu and Kashmir.
In Balakot operation too Mirage-2000 aircraft, equipped with SPICE bomb, after taking off from the Gwalior Base, had pounded the Jaish camp.
Asked about the airspace being closed from the Pakistani side, Dhanoa said, "They deciding to close the airspace is their problem."
"Our economy is vibrant and air traffic is a very important part and you have noticed that the Air Force has never stopped our civilian air traffic," he said.
"Only on February 27, we had stopped Srinagar airspace for two-three hours. We did not allow tension with Pakistan to dictate our civil aviation because our economy is much bigger and much stronger as compared to theirs," he added.
He also said that the An-32 transport aircraft will continue to fly in the mountains as there was no other option. His statement came more than a fortnight after the twin-engine military transport aircraft with 13 IAF personnel on board, crashed in Arunachal Pradesh.
"The An-32 will continue to fly as we have no choice," he said
"The Air Force is in the process of getting a more modern aircraft. When we get it, we will put it to critical roles and take the An-32 out and assign it for routine transport and training roles," he added.
With Agency Inputs