Satellite images show buildings still standing at Balakot

 Satellite images show madrasa buildings still standing at Balakot days after the Indian Air Force hits the Islamist group’s training camp

High-resolution Satellite images reviewed by news agency Reuters show that a religious school run by terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in northeastern Pakistan appears to be still standing days after the Indian Air Force claimed its warplanes hit the Islamist group’s training camp on the site.

The images produced by Planet Labs Inc, a San Francisco-based private satellite operator, show at least six buildings on the madrasa site on March 4, six days after the airstrike, says Reuters.

A cropped version of a satellite image shows a close-up of a madrasa near Balakot, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, on March 4, 2019.

Until now, no high-resolution satellite images were publicly available. But the images from Planet Labs, which show details as small as 72 cm, offer a clearer look at the structures the government said it attacked.

The image is virtually unchanged from an April 2018 satellite photo of the facility. There are no discernible holes in the roofs of buildings, no signs of scorching, blown-out walls, displaced trees around the madrasa or other signs of an aerial attack.

The external affairs and defence ministries did not reply to emailed questions sent in the past few days seeking comment on what is shown in the satellite images and whether they undermine its official statements on the airstrikes.

The town of Balakot, which was targetted by the Indian Air Force on Feb. 26, 2019.

The town of Balakot, which was targetted by the Indian Air Force on Feb. 26, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Satellite image: Google, DigitalGlobe, Landsat / Copernicus, CNES / Airbus via Reuters

Missed the target?

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who has 15 years experience in analysing satellite images of weapons sites and systems, confirmed that the high-resolution satellite picture showed the structures in question.

“The high-resolution images don’t show any evidence of bomb damage,” he said. Mr. Lewis viewed three other high-resolution Planet Labs pictures of the site taken within hours of the image provided to Reuters.

Though the government has not publicly disclosed what weapons were used in the strike, sources told Reuters last week that 12 Mirage 2000 jets carrying 1,000 kg bombs carried out the attack. On Tuesday, a defence official said the aircraft used the 2,000-lb Israeli-made SPICE 2000 glide bomb in the strike. A warhead of that size is meant to destroy hardened targets such as concrete shelters.

Mr. Lewis and Dave Schmerler, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation studies who also analyses satellite images, said weapons that large would have caused obvious damage to the structures visible in the picture. “If the strike had been successful, given the information we have about what kind of munitions were used, I would expect to see signs that the buildings had been damaged,” Mr. Lewis added. “I just don’t see that here.”

Pakistan has disputed India’s account, saying the operation was a failure that saw Indian jets, under pressure from Pakistani planes, drop their bombs on a largely empty hillside.

“There has been no damage to any infrastructure or human life as a result of Indian incursion,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general of the Pakistan military’s press wing, in a statement to Reuters. “This has been vindicated by both domestic and international media after visiting the site.”

Bomb craters

In two visits to the Balakot area in Pakistan by Reuters reporters last Tuesday and Thursday, and extensive interviews with people in the surrounding area, there was no evidence found of a destroyed camp or of anyone being killed.

Villagers said there had been a series of huge explosions but the bombs appeared to have landed among trees.

On the wooded slopes above Jaba, they pointed to four craters and some splintered pine trees, but noted little other impact from the blasts that jolted them awake about 3 a.m. on Feb. 26. “It shook everything,” said Abdur Rasheed, a van driver who works in the area.

He said there weren’t any human casualties: “No one died. Only some pine trees died, they were cut down. A crow also died.”

Mohammad Saddique from Jaba Basic Health Unit and Zia Ul Haq, senior medical officer at Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Balakot said they had seen no casualties.


Indian Air Force bombed terror camps in Pakistani

Indian Air Force bombed terror camps in Pakistani

Combat jets of the Indian Air Force bombed terror camps at multiple locations across the Line of Control on the Pakistani side in a pre-dawn strike on Tuesday, 12 days after the Pakistan-based terror group, Jaish-e-Mohammed carried, out the Pulwama attack in Kashmir, government sources said.

They said the Mirage 2000 fighter jets pounded JeM terror camps in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakoti in the well-planned strike, destroying the camps.

Related image

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the operation. Hours later, Prime Minister Modi chaired a meeting of Cabinet Committee on Security which was attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Sitharaman.

The sources said significant damage has been inflicted on the ground on the Pakistani side. A source indicated that the operation was carried out between 3:50 AM and 4:05 AM.

In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called an “emergency meeting” at the Foreign Office for consultations, sources said.         Qureshi will meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan after the meeting in which he will discuss the security situation with high-level officials, they said.                 In an early morning tweet, Major General Asif Ghafoor, director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Army, said Indian aircrafts intruded from the Muzaffarabad sector.

“Facing timely and effective response from Pakistan Air Force released payload in haste while escaping which fell near Balakot. No casualties or damage,” Ghafoor said in a tweet. “Indian Air Force violated Line of Control Pakistan. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircraft gone back,” he claimed.

India had put all IAF bases in the western sector on maximum alert after the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. After the Pulwama attack, Modi announced that the armed forces have been given full freedom to respond to the strike.

Hours after the strike, the Indian Army tweeted a Hindi poem which says that “if you are docile and polite before the enemy, he may consider you as a coward, the way Kauravas treated Pandavas”.

The poem by Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ was tweeted by Additional Director General, Public Information on its official handle.

Peace overtures, the poem says, are possible only when you are in a powerful position and capable to win.

Its a moment of great pride for the nation that Indian Air Force successfully struck on the terror camps in Pakistan today. Under the leadership of PM Shri @narendramodi ji message is loud & clear that #NewIndia will not tolerate acts of terror or spare perpetrators of terrorism.

-26, February, 2019/New Delhi

‘Surgical Strike 2’ Preparation with high-tech weapons

Indian commandos preparing for ‘Surgical Strike Part 2’ with high-tech weapons

Indian commandos preparing for 'Surgical Strike Part 2' with high-tech weapons - WATCH SPECIAL REPORT

Indian special forces and commandos, known for their courage and bravery, are gearing up for ‘Surgical Strike Part 2’ with high-tech weapons to decimate enemies.

According to a report, to aid special forces and commandos with high-tech weapons and arms, over Rs 6000 will be spent by Narendra Modi government on armed forces to buy high-tech and advanced weapons for soldiers.

Of this budget, Rs 5500 crore to be spent on 6 new aircraft.

Also, Rs 300 crore will be spent on rifles, machine guns, grenade launchersm, etc.

Moreover, coast guard will be enabled with 6 new multi-mission aircraft.

And, Indian Air Force will get one more C 17 carrier aircraft.

Reports claim that automatic grenade launchers will also be bought to decimate enemies.

Surgical strikes

Earlier, in a first, India had carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the LoC with the Army inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from PoK. The strikes took place days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned Uri attack would not go unpunished.

Seven terror launch pads across the Line of Control(LoC) were targeted by the Army on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 in a nearly five-hour-long operation during which heliborne and ground forces were deployed.

– December 26, 2016, New Delhi


Boeing to supply 22 harpoon missiles system to India

Boeing to supply 22 harpoon missiles system to India

Boeing to supply 22 harpoon missiles system to India

The US Department of Defense announced that it has awarded defence major Boeing a $81 million contract to supply 22 Harpoon missile systems for Indian Navy`s Shishumar class submarines.

A Department of Defense release said the Boeing, the weapon manufacturer, is being awarded the $81,271,024 contract for firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract to exercise an option for the procurement of 22 Lot 89 Harpoon missiles and associated containers and components for India under the Foreign Military Sales programme.

The contract is expected to be completed in June 2018.

In 2014, India requested the US government for the Harpoon missiles for Shishumar class submarine. The request was made under Foreign Military Sale.

The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had July 2014 said that the Indian government has requested a possible sale of 12 UGM-84L Harpoon Block II Encapsulated Missiles, 10 UTM-84L Harpoon Encapsulated Training missiles, 2 Encapsulated Harpoon certification training vehicles, containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, US Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.

The estimated cost is $200 million.

It said that this weapon system, to be employed on the Shishumar class submarine (Type-209), will provide enhanced capabilities for defence of critical sea lines of communication.

“India has already purchased Harpoon missiles for integration on Indian Air Force`s Jaguar aircraft and Indian Navy`s P-8I maritime patrol aircraft. India will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces,” it added.

Sources in the industry said that a contract was signed this June between Indian Ministry of Defence and US Department of Defense for supply of Harpoon systems for the submarines.

To execute this contract, the US government has to buy the missiles from Boeing to supply to India.

-September 24, 2016, New Delhi


AN-32 aircraft with 29 aboard missing

AN-32 aircraft with 29 aboard missing; Indian Air Force intensifies search operation

AN-32 aircraft with 29 aboard missing; Indian Air Force intensifies search operation

A transport plane of the Indian Air Force with 29 people on board went missing on Friday while flying from Tambaram in Chennai to Port Blair.

Those on board included six crew members.

The AN-32 aircraft took off at 8:30 am from Tambaram and the last contact with it was made 16 minutes later, news agency PTI quoted defence sources as saying.

 Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said efforts are on to trace the IAF AN 32 aircraft.

Tamil Nadu Coastal Security Group has deployed 12 fast moving interceptors from Chennai to Rameshwaram region to assist in search operations.

The aircraft can fly for up to four hours without refuelling.

A major search and rescue operation has been launched by the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal.

Indian Navy has launched one submarine for underwater detection of any transmission or signal of missing IAF aircraft AN-32.IAF plane with 29 aboard missing

Navy officials said a P-8I surveillance aircraft, a Dornier and four ships had been deployed in the search and rescue operation.

Officials said it was a “courier flight” with service personnel on board.

-July 22, 2016, New Delhi

Pathankot attack: Interpol issues Red Corner notice against JeM chief Masood Azhar, brother Md. Rauf

Pathankot attack: Interpol issues Red Corner notice against JeM chief Masood Azhar, brother Md. Rauf

Pathankot attack: Interpol issues Red Corner notice against JeM chief Masood Azhar, brother Md. Rauf

The International Police Association (Interpol) on Tuesday issued a Red Corner notice against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother Abdul Rauf for their alleged role in the conspiracy to attack the strategic Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot.

The development was confirmed by news agency ANI which reported that a Red Corner notice was issued against Azhar and his brother in connection with the Pathankot attack case.

After securing an arrest warrant from a special court, the National Investigative Agency (NIA) had recently approached the Interpol for issuing a Red Corner Notice against Azhar and three others for their alleged role in the Pathankot attack case.

A dossier along with the non-bailable warrant issued by a special NIA court in Mohali in Punjab was reportedly sent to the CBI, which is the nodal agency representing the Interpol in the country.

As per reports, the NIA had sought warrant against 47-year-old Azhar, his brother Abdul Rauf, Kashif Jan and Shahid Latif, two handlers of JeM terrorists who had infiltrated into India through Bamiyal sector of Punjab in the wee hours of December 30 to launch the terror assault.

The JeM terrorists had initially hijacked a taxi and killed its driver Ikagar Singh before commandeering another vehicle which carried a Punjab Police officer Salwinder Singh, his friend Rajesh Verma and cook Madan Gopal on the intervening night of December 31 and January one.

The terrorists, four of whom have been identified as Nasir Hussain (Punjab province), Abu Bakar, (Gujranwala), Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum (both from Sindh), entered into the IAF base and carried out a suicide attack in the wee hours of January 2.

The NIA court had issued an ‘open-ended non-bailable warrant’ against Azhar and three others for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy with JeM terrorists and carrying out a terror strike on the IAF base which left seven security personnel dead. Bodies of four slain terrorists were also recovered from the sight of encounter which lasted nearly 80 hours.

The NIA had forwarded the warrant to Interpol along with the gist of evidence that it has found against the four which included telephonic conversation between the terrorists and their handlers like Jaan and Latif.

The NIA has also shared the Internet Protocol address of the website which uploaded a video of Abdul Rauf, brother of Masood Azhar. In the video, he was seen claiming responsibility for the attack and complimenting his boys for it. The video has since been removed and the website has also gone off the cyber world.

India had built a strong case for seeking UN sanctions against Azhar but the move was vetoed by China.

-May 17, 2016, New Delhi

Manohar Parrikar’s facts silence Congress

Manohar Parrikar’s facts silence Congress

Defence Minister shows rules tweaked to help Agusta get contract

Even as the Congress defended the UPA Government’s decision to select the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopters, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar accused the erstwhile regime of going slow in its investigations to identify bribe-takers and alleged there was an “invincible hand” delaying the probe process.

He also accused the then Government of changing several technical parameters to favour AgustaWestland despite reservations by the Indian Air Force (IAF).

In fact, then Defence Minister AK Antony’s objection to holding the trial of the Agusta helicopter in the United Kingdom instead of India was also overlooked, Parrikar said, adding this was in violation of the terms and conditions in the global tender or Request for Proposal that said the trials should be held in varying climates and terrains of India.

Justifying his Government’s decision to opt for AgustaWestland helicopters, AK Antony said he ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe when allegations of corruption emerged in Italy in 2012 and asked the present regime to find out who the bribe-takers were.  He then urged the Government to stop “blackmailing and threatening” his party or else “you will repent later.”

Antony also said he as a Minister then, had mooted a proposal for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe as it would have the authority to summon witnesses.  However, then Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley opposed the proposal, Antony claimed.

Countering Antony’s contention that the selection process was okay, Parrikar said, “a litany of omissions and commissions at various stages of the decision-making process indicate malafide and corrupt actions driven by the goal to favour a particular vendor.”  Parrikar also said this has been recognised by the Italian court in its judgment.

As the Defence Minister was reading out these facts from a statement, Congress leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, besides JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, protested and said Parrikar should reply to their queries.  He shot back and said the statement answered all their questions and kept on reading despite the din.

He said at various stages, from March 2005 onwards, and despite specific directions to the contrary, operational requirements and qualitative requirements were set, amended and processes influenced to make AgustaWestland the “only alternative.”

 Parrikar also said though AgustaWestland is based in the UK and was not included in the tender it was allowed to come for trials later on. Parrikar also said an “unusually large number of deviations” were approved and there was “exceptional” dilution of flight evaluation trial standards. These included reducing the flight ceiling from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres and changing the cabin height from 1.45 metres to 1.8 metres, he said.

The Minister alleged that instead of taking action against the company, the UPA wrote to the External Affairs Ministry, embassy and the court.  “It took nearly two years to cancel the contract and that too primarily as a response to an arbitration request by the supplier. In fact, the delivery of the first three aircraft could have been avoided,” he said.

 Parrikar also alleged that the helicopters were bought at inflated prices and no realistic basis for price negotiations was provided.  Mincing no words, Parrikar alleged that IDS Infotech was used as a conduit for bribe money.

 There must be a “robust rationale for deviation from policy,” he said adding the benchmark cost given was “unreasonably high and had provided no realistic basis for price negotiations.”

Not satisfied with the Defence Ministers’ reply, the Congress, JD(U), BSP and CPM demanded a time-bound probe to bring the case to its logical conclusion.  The entire Opposition backed BSP supremo Mayawati’s demand for a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe.  Azad demanded an assurance from the Government on this proposal and when the Treasury said the CBI was already in an advanced stage of investigation, the Congress staged a walk-out.

Earlier, Anand Sharma of the Congress charged the Government with political vendetta and mudslinging to tarnish the reputation of Congress leaders.  He then had a brief slanging match with BJP MP Subramanian Swamy.

In his deposition, Antony, during whose tenure the entire controversy unfolded in 2012, acknowledged “corruption” in the deal, but said the then UPA dispensation had done no wrong and asked the Government to take strong action against those involved without “threatening or blackmailing” Congress leaders.  He said the previous NDA Government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had changed the parameters required for acquiring the helicopters for VVIPs.

Making a spirited defence of the actions of the UPA Government, he read out an official release of the Ministry of Defence issued by the Press Information Bureau on February 14, 2013, listing steps taken by him as Defence Minister after allegations of corruption surfaced.

“It is proved beyond doubt there is corruption. There is the Italy judgment. All legal hurdles are over, you have to act,” he said.

-05 May 2016 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

Rafale deal finalised, India to purchase 36 fighter jets from France for 7.8 bn euros: Report

Rafale deal finalised, India to purchase 36 fighter jets from France for 7.8 bn euros: Report


With Rafale deal in limbo, India may buy American F/A-18 fighter jets


In a major development, India and France are believed to have finalised the multi-billion Rafale fighter jets deal.

NDTV reported on Friday that the deal under which India will acquire 36 Rafale fighter jets from Dassault Aviation has been finalised for a sum of EUR 7.8 billion (around Rs 59,000 crores).

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had recently said that the deal will be finalised soon.

The first deliveries are expected to start by 2019 after the deal is officially signed, which is likely to happen in about a month’s time.

Dassault had recently revised down the deal price of EUR 11.6 billion (Rs 85,000 crores) with 2015 as the base year for fixing the price for each aircraft manufactured, to EUR 8 billion (Rs 65,000 crores) with 2011 as the base year.

In 2015, the Indian government had withdrawn the tender to procure 126 multi-medium role combat aircraft (MMRCA). Rafale had been chosen as the jet India would buy.

Shortly after, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in April 2015, India had decided to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets in a government-to-government deal to boost the depleting fighter squad strength of the Indian Air Force.

-April 15, 2016,New Delhi

First batch of women fighter pilots to be inducted in June

First batch of women fighter pilots to be inducted in June

The first batch of women fighter pilots, comprising three cadets, will be inducted in the Indian Air Force on June 18.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said three women trainee officers have volunteered to be inducted in the combat role.
“We inducted women as pilots in 1991, but on only helicopter and transport (planes). I must thank the Defence Minister for having approved the IAF’s proposal to induct women as fighter pilots. Very soon…On June 18, the Air Force will get women fighter pilots.
“As of now three women trainees have volunteered to join the fighter stream. They are under the second phase of their training. Once they complete their training…They are on par with their male colleagues and the passing out parade is scheduled on June 18,” Raha said.
He was speaking at a seminar on ‘Women in Armed Medical Corps’ organised to mark International Women’s Day here, which was also attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
The Defence Ministry had cleared the proposal of inducting women as fighter pilots in October last year.
Parrikar also lauded Raha’s insistence to push forward the proposal to induct women as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force.
“Though I approved and support the proposal, it was he who was consistently pushing the file to the MoD (Ministry of Defence) level.
“I congratulate you for initiating the seminar which will go a long way in deciding the role of women in uniform and not only in the Armed Medical Corps,” Parrikar said.
– 08 March 2016 | PTI | New Delhi

Import budget for Indian Air Force from various countries during 2012-15

Import budget for Indian Air Force  from various countries during 2012-15

 (` in crores)
Country Financial year
2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
France 2,469.13 3,108.00 515.14
Israel 481.58 530 562.29
Russia 4002.16 6,445.00 7,434.24
UK 259.71 9.44 404.17
Ukraine 294.51 1,990.00 349.79
USA 11,135.51 7,863.00 4,355.66
Austria 19.35 39.26 2.43
Sweden 0 0.13 0
Finland 0 0 0.35
Germany 15.06 0 0
Singapore 0 0 0
Australia 0 0.11 0.11
Uzbekistan 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 11.61
Switzerland 498.03 942.6 999.4
Bulgaria 29.51 0 14.78
UAE 4.85 0 0
Spain 0 0 5.79
Others 11.55 0 0
Total 19,220.95 20,927.54 14,655.75
Source: Ministry of Defence