Satellite imagery of Jabba top where IAF targeted Jaish-e-Mohammed camps in Pakistan's Balakot in February 2019 | Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd) | ThePrint
Satellite imagery of Jabba top where IAF targeted Jaish-e-Mohammed camps in Pakistan's Balakot in February 2019 | Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd) | ThePrint
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New Delhi: First exclusive satellite images accessed by ThePrint of the Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot bombed by the Indian Air Force on 26 February show four black spots on the CGI or corrugated galvanised iron sheet roofs of Jaish facilities.

This indicates the possibility that IAF smart munitions may have pierced the roofs which have since been patched with fresh CGI sheets and repainted.

But the damage to buildings and walls from the air strikes may not have been as extensive as it has been made out by the Modi government and the ruling BJP.

Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd) /ThePrint

The images also show tents that were seen before the strikes have gone missing.

There were two large blocks of tented accommodation of 17m x 6m in size seen in a pre-strike image. These tents are not observed in the latest imagery of 4 March, indicating they were either removed or destroyed by the IAF bombing.

Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd) /ThePrint

The images apart, the action of targeting this Jaish facility from the air demonstrates that New Delhi has been successful in its intent to tell Pakistan and the international community it can and will retaliate deep inside Pakistan to a terrorist attack on Indian territory.

The high-resolution images were taken on 4 March, five days after the Indian strike.

Also read: These are the 3 locations in Pakistan that were bombed by Indian Air Force

‘Biggest training camp’

Following the 26 February strikes, top Indian officials and defence sources said that IAF fighter jets targeted a Jaish facility in Balakot in Mansehra district of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said “India struck the biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot. In this operation, a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis who were being trained for fidayeen action were eliminated. This facility at Balakot was headed by Maulana Yousuf Azhar (alias Ustad Ghouri), the brother-in-law of Masood Azhar, chief of JeM.”

Gokhale had also said that the facility was located in a “thick forest on a hilltop far away from any civilian presence”. The reference was taken as an indication to a Jaish facility atop a hill called Jabba Top, near the town of Jabba, located between Balakot and Mansehra.

The camp was about 65 km from the LoC and was said to be housing roughly 200-300 terrorists at the time of the strike. The camp covered an area of almost 50 hectares, and was deeply hidden from most visual surveillance, as ThePrint had first reported.

Also read: Madrassas to military training — how Balakot emerged as largest breeding ground for JeM

Four black spots

The first satellite image indicates that most structures on Jabba Top are still standing and are intact. But there are four dark spots visible on the main building, which possibly indicates touching up of paint over a newly placed CGI sheet.

The IAF is reported to have used 1,000 kg Israeli Spice-2000 precision-guided bombs to hit the targets. This bomb can blow such a tin-roofed building to smithereens.

The four dark spots indicate that the IAF may have used the smaller Spice-250 bombs that may have entered the structure through the four spots and caused damage after exploding inside.

The Spice-250 with blast fragmentation warheads is considered lethal against personnel and soft skinned targets such as tents and shacks being used to house the Jaish terrorists.

The image, however, does not show any damage to any of the other buildings along the entire ridge. Some Western experts said that even “a low-level pass at high speed with a stick of dumb bombs would have erased that hilltop with far less effort”.

The image also indicates that India may have used ‘fuel air explosive’ warheads which can be fitted with the kits of the Spice bombs.

Burnt spots

The third image shows burn marks on the Jabba top hillside. These marks are not consistent with craters caused by a 1,000 kg bomb.

Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd) /ThePrint

The burn marks are very small and, in fact, look man-made rather than bomb craters. The large burn marks could have been created by fuel explosive warheads dropped on escaping terrorists by a second or third wave of IAF fighters.

The craters are probably more in conformity with shallow digging and burning, possibly by Pakistani armed forces in a hurry. The ground pictures are also vague with broken tree stubs but without the top portions anywhere in the vicinity.

This report will be updated as more satellite images and their analysis becomes available.

Col. Vinayak Bhat (retd) is an Army satellite intelligence veteran and contributes exclusively to ThePrint.

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26 Comments Share Your Views


  1. There is huge the very next day..pak airforce try to enter our LoC…this point itself is the proof…our airforce caused good destruction over their territory…

    If those people who try to prove wrong…telling no destruction happened..they should proved immediately

    ..not week after attacks….

    I believe in our IAF…Jai Hind……

  2. To get a better idea of the likely damage please read this

  3. Just want to understand what is the credibility of the images which are being released. Only because Reuters have told we must believe?…….may be they all got the wrong location all together…..or it may not be POK and some other place…….questionable and ambiguous…we need to read between the lines before believing…

    • You are doing a mistake. Spice 2000 in itself is not a bomb. It’s a guidance kit attached to a dumb bomb of any kind. The damage would depend on the type of bomb used. If an incendiary type fire bomb is used it will kill personel without causing much structural damage. The video that you have posted is of a bomb that is clearly capable of structural damage/destruction. The spice kit also enables the bomb to be dropped in an angle that would enable it to puncture through hard structures, and a time delay provided to explode a few seconds after puncturing through the structure.

  4. Efficient Air Force, no doubt and will raise to future eventualities as and when raises,too. Let’s stop discussing this and only concentrate human development indicators and progressive issue before GE. Enough of countrymen’s time is wasted on non-core events. Let some constructive policies on Employment, Education, Housing, Food, Health, etc be discussed by the media and the politician. We Indians are fed up with non-productive news and articles framed i the electronic media and print media.

  5. Good, it is pro Pakistani Indian who wants next time and very quickly India going to strike civilian in major city of Pakistan, only to make happy them.

  6. Why are the pre-strike images not posted for comparison? That might make the analysis meaningful. Also, what is the larger point of this analysis – that the govt / IAF lied about their operation or at best exaggerated it? Aren’t we missing the whole point that we did manage to cross the boundary for a strike since several decades? Isn’t that significant by itself?
    It is sad to see the whole media attempting to find fault with the operational information regarding the airstrikes, while the govt has stood by its official statements from the foreign secretary.

    • Today, the ex-Foreign Secy Shyam Saran in an interview to The Hindu, has talked about doubts on whether our forces even crossed the LoC. It is possible that the deep penetration was done through precision-guided missiles fired from behind the LoC.

    • lol, questionin them on the information they stand by is in no way illogical, standing by whatever they say makes no sense, they claimed dead ppl and destroyed camps, if so then ppl need proof for that, also dont boast about the crossing of the LoC as ur enemy can do the same as demonstrated the nest day

  7. Unlike most-successful Desert War by US, why has India not used massively debilitating “SHOCK & AWE’ strategy with 100’s of missiles and aircraft’s aided by drones and satellites, simultaneously!
    While Karachi has not yet been attacked as was expected, where are the advanced pin-point cruise missiles?

    • All this shock and awe stuff has been used by Western nations against poorly defended and weak nations only . US against Iraq, US against Serbia, UK, US and France against Syria , US against Vietnam etc etc. the list is endless.
      US has always chickened out when faced with someone like China.
      The cold fact that stares us in the face is that Pak is heavily defended by a professional Army backed up by nukes. We have to tread accordingly.

    • just a question, on what grounds were u plannin to attack Karachi ? did they ever do anything to u ? if yes, then what did they do ?
      seems like u indians have really lost ur way and are dying for an all out nuclear war, retards

  8. The colonel who wrote this seems to have not kept up with developments in missile technology, which is expected as he is a retired person. This missile will create a small hole on the top of the building and explode horizontally inside. All beings inside will immediately be sent to heaven.

  9. hahha…. bombs were droped and no damage to building happen? LOL….
    Col. Bhat. you can only fool your follow Indian, which desperately looking for something but nobody else will get impressed.
    why not you showed the old and new images in comparison?
    Yes, that correct IAF came and droped some bombs, but nothing happened. There was no terror camp.

    I am really happy to see how you people make Indian foul, that’s is good sign for Pakistan.

  10. This is the most credible analysis I have seen until now. All other news / research / analysis seem to be inconclusive/imaginary. Thank you Col. Bhat. I will not be surprised if this piece is picked up by mainstream media by tomorrow.

  11. It is quite likely that the bombs used were not designed to bring down walls and buildings , but were anti- personnel in nature. That means they would have caused maximum damage to any humans inside these shelters . That could explain the lack of major wall damage in the pictures.
    Getting rid of terror operatives would be more in India’s interest than flattening mere buildings.

  12. Ideally, the Balakot mission ought to have been kept away from the political / electoral narrative altogether. However, if it is made a central plank, it will be subjected to the most intense scrutiny, inconsistencies highlighted. The number of persons / terrorists killed is something that ordinary citizens can readily comprehend.


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