The Indian Army has for the first time deployed the rare double humped camels to carry critical load to the forward positions and mounted patrolling in the sandy terrain of the Eastern Ladakh where Indian and Chinese troops have engaged in an intense standoff since June 2020.
Amid questions arising on Government claims that several terrorists were killed in the Balakot strike, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Monday confirmed hitting the targets adding that the Indian Air Force does not calculate the number of the dead.
Briefing the media in Coimbatore, the air chief said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale has in his statement clearly amplified the target.
“The target has been clearly amplified by the Foreign Secretary in his statement. If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target, otherwise why would he (Pak PM) have responded, if we dropped bombs in the jungles why would he respond,” he said.
Hours after the pre-dawn offensive on Pakistan-based terror camps, the Government had said that “India has struck the biggest training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot eliminating a very large number of JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commander and jihadis in the operation”.
Dhanoa further said the IAF was not in a position to clarify the number of casualties adding that the government will clarify that. “We don’t count human casualties, we count what targets we have hit or not,” he said.
“We hit our target. The air force doesn’t calculate casualty numbers, the government does that,” he said.
Speaking on MiG-21 Bison, Dhanoa said the aircraft is a capable one and that it has been upgraded, has better radar, air-to-air missiles and advanced weapons system.
On being asked about using the MiG-21 aircraft for aerial combat with Pakistani fighter jets, Dhanoa said, “One is a planned operation in which you plan and carry out. But when an adversary does a strike on you, every available aircraft goes in, irrespective of which aircraft it is. All aircraft are capable of fighting the enemy”.
On Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF chief said his medical fitness will decide whether he will fly or not.
“Whether he flies or not depends on his medical fitness. That’s why post-ejection, he has undergone medical check. Whatever treatment required, will be given. Once we get his medical fitness, he will get into fighter cockpit,” he added.
The briefing comes almost a week after India carried out “non-military pre-emptive” airstrikes targeting the JeM training camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80-km from the Line of Control (LoC) early on February 26.
There were reports that over 300 terrorists were killed in the assault.
The opposition has however raised questions on the number of casualties put out by government sources.