Army was ready to hit Pakistan in Feb 27 aerial combat

Last Updated 18 December 2019, 21:47 IST

The Indian Army would have hit back at Pakistan if its air force had dropped bombs at an ammunition dump near Rajouri on February 27, the day after the Balakot strike, military sources said on Wednesday.

On February 26, India carried out an aerial strike on a terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e Mohammad terror group in Pakistan's Balakot, in response to Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

Pakistan Air Force retaliated the next day by trying to target military installations but it was repulsed. The PAF downed a MiG-21 Bison in an aerial combat besides capturing IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman, who was handed over to India on March 1.

Varthaman had shot down an F-16 of Pakistan before his Mig21 Bison was hit.

Following the aerial combat on February 27, Pakistan said its military planes deliberately did not attack Indian defence installations and that the raid was carried out to send a strong message to New Delhi.

"If an important target like ammunition dump in Kashmir was hit, we would have definitely taken retaliatory action," said a source, adding the Army was ready for any eventuality following the Balakot strike,

The sources also said the Indian Army was planning to deploy Integrated Battle Groups first in the Sikkim sector and then it would be rolled out in other key areas.

The IBG, which aims to integrate different components of the Army into the new formation, will include artillery guns, tanks, air defence and logistical elements. This is expected to make it a complete battle-ready unit.

The sources said all the IBGs would be headed by Maj General-rank officers. The roll out of IBGs is likely to bring down deployment of soldiers along various key sectors.

The Army is set to deploy the first IBG in Sikkim sector next year.

(Published 18 December 2019, 21:47 IST)

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