Indian Air Force's (IAF) mission to bomb a terrorist hideout in Balakot, Pakistan, was codenamed 'Operation Bandar'. It's been two years since IAF conducted the Balakot Air Strike in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa on February 14, 2019, to avenge the deadly Pulwama attack that claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.
'Operation Bandar' was planned under utmost secrecy and most of the details were only known to the top planners, defence sources have revealed. The operation was so secret that the then Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa had made a classified telephonic call to Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser, about the success of the attack.
"Bandar Mara Gaya (the monkey has been killed)," ACM Dhanoa said in Hindi during his short call to NSA Doval, reported Hindustan Times. While Dhanoa made a similar call to then defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Research and Analysis Wing chief Anil Dhasmana. Doval also informed PM Modi about the success.
India termed the Balakot Air Strike an "intelligence-led, non-military, preemptive" operation, which targetted a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camp run in Balakot. However, India didn't officially revealed that the Balakot airstrike was seen as a response to the Pulwama suicide attack.
Following a thumbs up from PM Modi, IAF's 12 Mirage-2000 fighter jets, along with some Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs, carried out the attack in the heart of Pakistan and destroyed the JeM camp before dawn on February 26, 2019. Flying in three separate formations, the IAF jets crossed the LoC and dropped Israeli-made Spice 2000 bombs on the terror facility in JeM terror camp with precision-guided missiles without getting detected by the Pakistani radars.
'Operation Bandar' capped days of rising tensions between India and Pakistan. It also pushed Delhi and Islamabad to the brink of an armed conflict with the Pakistan Air Force attempting retaliatory strikes on February 27, 2019. The IAF scrambled its fighter jets in response, leading to a rare dogfight between Indian and Pakistani jets.