On the first anniversary of Balakot airstrikes, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria piloted MiG-21 fighter jet of 51 Squadron Commanding Officer Group Captain Nazeer at Srinagar airbase today. Along with two Mirage-2000s and two Sukhoi-30MKIs also flew to the airbase. The 51 Squadron was activated following the Balakot Airstrike in 2019, and Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was a part of the 51 Squadron.
Bhadauria will also address a seminar 'Indian Air Force: No war, no peace' at DRDO Bhawan on February 28. Bhadauria is expected to talk about the Balakot airstrikes and the air skirmish that took place on February 27, 2019. On February 26 last year, the IAF carried out the airstrikes on terror camps in Balakot, Pakistan. The airstrikes were carried out in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack that took place on February 14, 2019.
Pulwama attack on CRPF convoy
Forty CPRF Jawans lost their lives in the attack when an ED-laden SUV rammed into their convoy. The terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing. The Balakot airstrikes were seen as a direct response to the Pulwama bombing.
The IAF's mission to bomb the terrorist hideout in Balakot, Pakistan, was given the codename 'Operation Bandar'. It was a rare operation in which the IAF crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and dropped bombs on targets in Pakistani territory. Balakot is a small town located in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. On February 26, 2019, Indian Air Force's Mirage-2000 fighter jets took off from airbases across India. The Indian Air Force jets crossed the LoC in J&K and bombed Jaish terror camps in Balakot with precision-guided missiles.
Dogfight between Indian, Pakistani jets
Pakistan retaliated a day after. The Pakistan Air Force attempted an airstrike on Indian soil. The Indian Air Force launched its fighter jets in response, leading to a rare dogfight between the Indian and Pakistani jets. In the skirmish, an IAF MiG-21 Bison fighter jet shot down a Pakistani F-16 during the conflict. Indian Mig-21, which was being flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was also shot down and he was captured by the Pakistani forces. After much deliberation, Wing Commander Abhinandan was released two days later from Pakistan's hold. This development calmed the tensions between the two nations after two weeks of heightened conflict.