Hyderabad: The Balakot strike was “over within 90 seconds” and the mission was completed under such secrecy that even family members did not know about it, according to a pilot who was part of the operation on February 26.
Following the Pulwama attack that killed 40 paramilitary troopers on February 14 and severed the relations between India and Pakistan, India retaliated by destroying a JeM camp in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s province and carried out the strike.
The IAF pilot told a leading daily that the strike was over in 90 seconds as pilots released the weapons and retracted.
The Mirrage 2000 fighter pilot said that it was done such secrecy that his family also did not know it.
“Next day, when news broke, my wife asked me whether I was part of the attack. I kept quiet and slept off,” he was quoted saying to the leading daily.
Throwing light on the incident, another squadron leader said that the IAF flew a lot of Combat Air Patrols (CAP) mostly along Line of Control (LoC), which was part of the strategy.
One of the pilot added that he got a clear picture of what really was happening only two days before the strike as the number of sorties had increased manifold.
He added that on February 25, at about 4 pm, the Spice-2000 (missiles) was loaded on to Mirage 2000s. The flight took off at 2 am.
The Balakot strike involved Mirage 2000s, and Sukhoi 30s MKi that acted as cover incase the Mirage was intercepted. Others included Phalcon AWACS and Embraer AEWS mid-air refuellers, and Heron drones that were used to photograph the targets.
One pilot said that the senior IAF officials did not even change the daily routines to avoid getting detected.