NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi revealing how he gave the go-ahead to the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the Balakot strike deep within Pakistan on February 26 amid concerns of bad weather, has generated an animated debate.
“The weather was not good on the day of the air strike. A thought crept up that perhaps the day of strike could be changed. However, I suggested that the cloud cover could actually help our planes escape radar detection,” he said in a TV interview on Saturday.
While political opponents called it ridiculous, IAF officers affirmed the worry of the weather affecting the final outcome.
A senior IAF officer, on condition of anonymity, said the problem was not with the Mirages reaching close to the target; it was with the penetrator version of Spice-2000 stand-off glide bomb released much before impact.
“Clouds over the target would have caused issues with the bomb sensors, which match the pictures and data fed into it with what it sees on the spot. Any mismatch would lead to problems.”
Remember, one of the six Mirages on the Pakistan raid couldn’t release its bomb because of bad weather, the officer added and cited the examples of IAF Exercise Iron First in 2016 when a missile fired by an LCA had not hit the target due to bad weather.
Another senior officer agreed with the PM’s view that “there was a possibility of secrecy of the operation getting compromised if the attack was postponed.”
The Opposition took a swipe at the PM with CPM approaching the Election Commission alleging Modi had revealed “operational details of a sensitive military mission” to influence voters.
Rejecting the charge, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, “The prime minister did not reveal anything (about the Balakot strike) he was not supposed to reveal.”
In the interview, Modi said he used his “raw wisdom” to dispel doubts of experts who wanted the air strike deferred.