New Delhi: All future operations on the lines of last year’s Balakot air strikes will have a video feed of the attack for military personnel to get real-time information, which will also help with subsequent analysis of the hit, ThePrint has learnt.
According to sources in the defence establishment, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has rewritten firing protocols for the air-to-surface Israeli missile, Crystal Maze, as it was felt that the missile could have been fired along with the Spice 2000 during the Balakot strike but the rules at the time didn’t allow for it.
The Crystal Maze, which has a camera that opens up as it nears the target, gives a playback of hitting the target. The missile, which has a range of about 80-100 km, can be navigated further through a cursor by the operator who can actually pin point it to the centre of the target.
The IAF had used the Israeli Spice 2000 bombs to hit the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp in Pakistan’s Balakot in tandem with the Crystal Maze.
A video would have helped faster post-analysis, the sources said.
Now, the firing protocols for Crystal Maze have been changed, said a source who didn’t want to be named.
The decision was taken after the lack of a video feed from the Balakot air strike became an issue of intense political slugfest, and helped the Pakistan military’s publicity wing, Inter-Services Public Relations, launch a propaganda war, which helped create initial doubts in the minds of many.
“The Balakot strike was meant to send a message to the enemy and the enemy has heard it loud and clear. No matter what they say, the military bosses in Pakistan know what happened,” said a second source.
Multiple Mirage 2000 aircraft had crossed about 15-20 km inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on 26 February 2019 to target a JeM training camp in Balakot. The action had come less than two weeks after the terror group claimed an attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, in which 40 personnel were killed.
The Spice 2000
In future, the IAF will also use a combination of penetrating weapons like the Spice 2000 and others like the BrahMos, which are capable of flattening the targeted structures, said the sources.
The non-availability of a clear video of the air strike came as a setback as commercial satellite images of the JeM camp that came out later appeared to show intact structures at the site without any exterior damage.
However, the Spice 2000 missiles with timed fuses are meant to penetrate structures and explode. While the bomb weighs about 1,000 kg, it has only about 90 kg of explosives that tears through the 900 kg of hardened steel, which acts as deadly splinter killing all those inside the targeted structure.