Twelve days after the deadly Pulwama terror attack shook the nation and killed over 40 CRPF jawans, the IAF (Indian Air Force) today breached the LoC (Line of Control) and struck JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) terror camps in Balakot.
This is the first time in almost two decades that IAF's jets crossed the border and fired in aggression. The fighter jets ambushed the terror camps with 1,000 kg laser-guided bombs.
The strike was carried out around 3:30 AM by 12 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. IAF operates multiple fighter jets like the Sukhoi 30MKI, MiG 29UPG, SEPECAT Jaguar, and HAL Tejas. But, the Mirage 2000 has been a trusted jet since the 1999 Kargil Conflict, the last time it fired weapons in aggression.
© MensXP / Shivam Vahia
The Mirage 2000 is built by French company Dassault Aviation - the makers of the controversial Rafale jets. The IAF calls the jet "Vajra", meaning thunderbolt for its precision aiming and intercepting abilities. The Jets were first commissioned in 1985 and it was in response to Pakistan Air Force's acquisition of the American F-16 fighter.
Initially, 36 single-seater aircraft and four twin-seater were ordered, but after its remarkably successful performance in Kargil, the government ordered 10 more. The jet is technically classified as a multi-role aircraft, meaning it can carry out air-to-ground bombings, air-to-air superiority combat, interception, as well as reconnaissance.
© Wikimedia / SRA Greg L. Davis
Even though it seems like an old aircraft on paper, India has upgraded the jet's avionics to the latest standard (Mirage 2000I) and it is classified as a fourth generation fighter.
Powering the fighter is a single SNECMA M53 turbofan that generates up to 95kN of thrust in afterburner stage. The engine has a single shaft modular design which helps in reducing the weight and in turn increases manoeuvrability. It can fly at a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 or 2,330kmph.
It has a built-in DEFA 554 autocannon and can fire up to 1,800 rounds per minute. Five hardpoints (location where missiles and bombs are attached) are located on the fuselage and two on each wing. For today's strike, GBU-12 Laser Guided bombs were used and R.550 missile was loaded to counter any possible threat from Pakistan's air force.
© WikiMedia / SSgt. Glenn B. Lindsey
This is the same jet that was also landed on Yamuna Expressway near Mathura in 2015. For today's attack, reports suggest that Sukhoi 30MKI were also kept on standby to assist the Mirage 2000 in case of retaliation from Pakistan Air Force. At the same time, the attack was also backed by an EMB-145 AEW&CS "Netra" aircraft from Agra to look out for aerial targets and provide better radar coverage.