Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created a stir after claiming in a TV interview that he pushed for the Balakot air strike, despite cloud cover, as he felt the adverse weather would prevent Pakistani radar from picking up Indian aircraft movement.
He also failed to clarify if experts in the room corrected his assumption.
Statement: “I am not a person who knows (defence) science. I thought there are so many clouds and it’s raining, so there’s a benefit for us. We could be protected against radar. Everyone was in a dilemma about what to do. Then ultimately, I said we have cloud cover, so let’s go.”
Who said it: Prime Minister Narendra Modi to News Nation.
Accuracy meter: 0/5
As both the lay person as well as experts have noted on social media, cloud cover offering protection against military radar is false. Radar, which stands for Radio Detection And Ranging, works by transmitting radio waves. Different kinds of radar work at different frequencies, depending on what their targets are. Unlike light, however, radio waves pass through objects, depending on their frequency.
Apart from the military, radar finds use in other scientific and common applications. Geology employs radar, which directs radio waves into the ground and helps geologists study the composition of the earth. They are effective at measuring rock porosity as well.
Weather radar, meanwhile, functions at frequencies where clouds actually stop the waves. The water vapour droplets reflect radio waves back, so the clouds can be detected and modelled through the Doppler Effect. Some even measure the intensity of rain.
Radar used by military and air-traffic controllers, however, are built to detect solid objects and purposefully penetrate clouds. The frequencies at which they function make weather transparent and help detect aircraft through all kinds of weather. This is why special anti-radar aircraft are designed carefully to have edges that deflect radio waves and their composition is such that they could potentially absorb a fair amount to make them invisible to radar. Except for these specialised vehicles, there is no escaping radar in the air.
While PM Modi did say he doesn’t understand the science and that cloud cover preventing detection by radar was his initial thought, he fails to clarify the statement further. He proceeds with his narration, claiming they decided to launch the attack because of and under cloud cover (the implication being that it offers protection from radar). Thus, his statement is 100 per cent inaccurate and is scientific misinformation coming from the highest office in the land.