Drones, a vehicle of choice for attacks

Drones, a vehicle of choice for attacks

While no lives were lost in the drone attacks on the Jammu airbase, the blasts did cause some damage to a building

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

The twin drone attacks on an Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Jammu airport in the early hours of Sunday is a reason for serious concern. It signals the emergence of a new threat to India’s security. Hitherto, India has had to contend with grenades, bullets, bombs, suicide bombers and vehicles laden with explosives that terrorists freely used to target India. These anti-India terrorists are now using drones as their vehicles to deliver bombs to hit their targets. In recent years, security forces have spotted drones carrying weapons and drugs across the Line of Control and the International Border (IB) into India.

Now drones are being used to carry out the attack itself. While no lives were lost in the drone attacks on the Jammu airbase, the blasts did cause some damage to a building. Helicopters parked nearby escaped damage. The Jammu airbase is located around 12-14 km from the IB. It is a tightly guarded installation. Yet, terrorists were able to breach this security thanks to drones, which cannot be detected easily. We need to bear in mind too, that drones need not be launched only in Pakistan. They can be launched from Indian soil too, which means that every installation here is vulnerable.

Read more: More than 300 drone sightings reported along Pakistan border since August 2019: Agencies

Sunday’s drone attacks on the Jammu airbase are unlikely to be the last on Indian targets. On Monday morning, two more drones were detected over the Ratnuchak-Kaluchak military area. Since they are hard to detect and cost less, drones are likely to emerge as the vehicle of choice for attacks by anti-India terrorists. It is therefore imperative that India’s security establishment arms itself with the best of anti-drone weaponry. It has dragged its feet with regard to the implementation of counter-drone guidelines that were finalised two years ago. Further delays could prove costly.

While investigations are on to trace the origin of the drones, the possibility of a Pakistani role cannot be ruled out. India-Pakistan back-channel talks are moving forward as are talks between New Delhi and Kashmir’s political leaders. There will be elements in Pakistan’s establishment that are opposed to the normalisation of India-Pakistan relations. There are hotheads in India who will call for halting the normalisation process. Both, New Delhi and Islamabad must ensure that these spoilers are not allowed to derail the process. While tightening its vigil along the border, the Narendra Modi government must reach out to the Imran Khan government to get it to rein in rogue elements in the military who may have masterminded the drone attacks to trigger bilateral tensions again. Quiet diplomacy to get Khan to co-operate is the best way forward.

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