This IDF analysis is for interested readers like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller with a verbatim quote from Trident Trishul Blogspot to appreciate the air situation, and is based on Former Air Chief BS Dhanoa’s revelation at Litfest in Chandigarh of use of NCTR to meet Pakistan’s 24 planes in “SWIFT RETORT”.
Pakistan believes in SURPRISE as its Principle of War, it used in 1948, 1965 and in 1971 on 3rd Dec 1971 evening. PM Mrs Gandhi had engineered the Intelligence to make Pakistan start the war. FM Manekshaw had assured her India was ready for 4th.
In 1999 again, India was surprised in Kargil and Gen VP Malik revealed nuggets at the same Chandigarh Litfest. All this and covert Mukti Bahini operations in 1971 is in Warring Nuclear Navies, but Gen Jacob destroyed the data of 60,000 tons of shipping Navy and Mukhti Bahini divers destroyed before the 1971 war to avoid paying Insurance and P&I compensations ! India denied its hand in any Mukhti action and did not even take back Clearance Diver Lt Das’s body when offered by Pakistan. PM Hassina in Delhi decorated his parents at Manekshaw centre in presence of PM Modi.
BJP brilliantly used surprise for Surgical Strike and Balakot and so many feel that Pakistan’s nuclear threat is a bluff but India should be ready in case Pakistan retorts, is the massage of this message.
IDF looks forward to a CDS who should read how FM Manekshaw acted as a CDS in 1971 to steer the three services to victory ! CDS must encourage Government must play war games on what may happen if it wants to be ready for what may happen. China wishes to raise Kashmir Issue again in UN and is a factor in the Indo Pacific brewing tension with interests worth billions in Pakistan and worried about POK’s future.
Prasun Sengupta of Trishul published part of his post on Balakot in June 2019 issue(FORCE), and now adds “Without understanding how NCTR works, there will continue to be needless & unwarranted speculation on the roles & tactics of the IAF’s airborne Mirage-2000Ns & Su-30MKIs on the morning of February 27, 2019”.
IDF and Wikipedia describes all-passive non-cooperative target recognition (NCTR) which PAF’s frontline MRCAs did not possess as one that enables a fighter to SILENTLY (radar off) approach always operating with a wingman. Even when India sent relief to Tamils in Op Poolmalia in 1987 to Sri Lanka in IL-76s the IAF’s Mirages accompanied them.
The Air Situational Awareness (Navy calls it Maritime Domain Awareness MDA) to the lead fighter is fed from the AWACS or LINK the winger passes from his radar about the range and bearing of the opposing aircraft whose on-board Multi Mode Radar is operating in the ‘track-while-scan mode” readying to fire a BVRAAM at the winger further away. (SOP in Navy).
QUOTE FROM TRIDENT TRISHUL BLOGSPOT
NCTR mode enables an aircraft passively lock-on to its opponent and fire BVRAAMs like the R-77 or even IIR-guided SRAAMs like the R-73E while at the same time employing its Israel supplied EL/L-8222 ASPJ activated for completely neutralising hostile BVRAAMs like the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The hostile MRCA, on the other hand, remains unaware of the approaching BVRAAM or SRAAM (until it is too late to take evasive action.)
The engagements on 27th saw the successful usage of both beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM) and short-range air-to-air missiles (SRAAM). Both opposing air forces engaged one another not only with their respective multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) fleets, but also with combat-support platforms like airborne early warning & control (AEW & CS) aircraft.
The IAF had an appreciable head-start over the PAF when in the 1980s it had procured Vympel R-23R and Matra Super 530D (Navy too) missiles along with its MiG-23MF and Mirage-2000H/TH combat aircraft…PAF could procure its first BVRAAMs—the Raytheon-built AIM-120C-5 AMRAAMs—only in the previous decade.
The IAF’s successful employment (By Wing Cdr Abhinandan) of the Vympel R-73E SRAAM with the help of the Sura-1 helmet-mounted display system (HMDS) once again proved that even third-generation upgraded legacy-MRCAs—can be lethal tools in the hands of experienced Indian air warriors.
(As an IAF trained controller IDF vouches that with the tools it has and proper Command and Control by Higher Leadership Indian Armed Forces are a force to reckon with but needs Air Sea and Air Land Doctrines of mutual support.)
Yet on 27th February Abhinandan’s MiG-21 Bison (armed with two Vympel R-77/RVV-AE BVRAAMs and two R-73E SRAAMs) of the IAF’s 1 Wing’s No.51 ‘Sword Arms’ Sqn operating out of Avantipora air base in J & K was lost to enemy fire. So what went wrong?
(In the ‘Furball’ meaning surprised by an animal)……….Pakistan surprised India as Pak Air and Army Chief got clearance from PM Imran Khan who consulted USA and China and decided to retort without crossing the LOC.)
At around 9:30am on 27 February, IAF flight controllers noticed a large package of 24 PAF combat aircraft taking off in 15 minutes from three air bases. These included at least 12 F-16C/Ds. They approached the Line of Control (LoC), into two formations, with airborne battle management cues being provided by a Saab 2000 AEW & CS platform. The formations included four Mirage-VPAs, four Mirage-IIIEAs and four JF-17s headed for the Sundarbani-Rajouri-Naushera sub-sectors; and eight F-16s headed for the Rajouri-Mendhar sub-sector and Nangi Tekri in Karmara. Pitted against them were two of the IAF’s upgraded Mirage-2000INs and four MiG-21 Bisons flying north of the Pir Panjal Range, and four Su-30MKIs to the south of the Range. The main PAF strike force comprised four F-16C/Ds armed with DENEL Dynamics-supplied Raptor-IID TV-guided gliding munitions, while the remaining four F-16C/Ds and four JF-17s were tasked with the protection of the strike package while remaining in a rear area over the Mangla Dam near the PoK-Pakistan Punjab border. (Pakistan feared war but wanted to avoid it is IDF analysis).
PAF selected the Indian Army posts at Bhimber Gali (elevation of 5,479 feet), Krishna Ghati Top (Nangi Tekri) at a height of 4,665 feet, Potha at an elevation of 4,073 feet, and an ammunition storage area in Narian (belonging to the 25 Infantry Division of the Indian Army) at an elevation of 2,000 feet. These targets, falling in India’s Rajouri sector, were deliberately selected for the sake of establishing Pakistan’s ‘moral ascendancy’ along this portion of the LoC—given the fact that it is from these areas that the Indian Army dominates its opposing adversary’s Battal sector, which is located at lower altitudes.
However, when the intruding PAF F-16s gained altitude for crossing into the areas southeast of the Pir Panjal Range towards their designated land targets in Jammu at altitudes varying from 5,000 feet to 10,000 feet in order to launch the Raptor-IIDs, they were detected by the IAF’s A-50I PHALCON by 10.25am, which in turn vectored the airborne MiG-21 Bisons towards their respective intercept courses.
Since these MiG-21 Bisons climbed in the shadow of the Pir Panjal Range, the PAF’s Saab 2000 AEW & CS platform failed to detect them. This proved to be a “blessing for the IAF”, since the PAF’s attacking F-16C/Ds were taken aback and were forced to launch their Raptor-IIDs in great hurry (and missed Army targets).
The Su-30MKIs carrying EL/L-8222 airborne self-protection jammer (ASPJ) pods were kept on standby further down south to engage the four PAF F-16s that were still orbiting 162km further to the west. It subsequently became evident that what the PAF wanted was to drive home a ‘point’ about the PAF demonstrating its will, means and capability to stage a ‘retaliatory sneak attack’ inside Indian territory.
By most accounts, cruising at 15,000 feet altitude, the MiG-21 Bis of Wing Commander Abhinandan engaged a PAF F-16D of 19 ‘Sherdils’ Sqn that had approached the Indian Army’s ammunition depot at Narian in Southern Jammu and was exiting that location at an altitude of 9,000 feet. While the MiG-21 Bison made a shallow dive to get within R-73E firing range of the F-16, the Paki pilot was alerted by his wingman about the impending attack and so he took an evasive measure by going into a steep climb to about 26,000 feet. By this time Wg Cdr Abhinandan had skillfully manoeuvred the powerful MiG-21 Bison’s engine behind the fleeing F-16 and positioned himself at a 60-degree angle of elevation below the F-16. (He and was in no mood to abort even if ordered). He fired an R-73E, which effortlessly struck the nose-section of the F-16D.
However, even as the R-73E was closing on to its target, the wingman of the F-16 (Wing Commander Nauman Ali Khan) moved in from behind and fired an AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM from a distance of less than 12km, hitting the centre-fuselage of the MiG-21 Bison. A second AIM-120C-5 that was probably fired against Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s wingman ( where was he —had he gotten separated from him) failed to hit its target and consequently it slammed into Mamankote Mallas village, Reasi, and caused an explosion that spread splinters and missile parts within a radius of 100 metres.
The entire aerial engagement lasted for some 90 seconds and ended at around 10:45am. The PAF F-16D was shot down over the Jhangar area of Khuiratta inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK), opposite the Lam Valley. Abhinandan went down near Horra’n Kotla village, located 7km west of the LoC in PoK’s Bhimber district.
(IDF salutes the Indian Air Force with a BZ as luck helped the Paki wing man IAF needs to read Trishul Blogspot IDF did and correct the analysis done by joining the dots and NCTR.) Shan No Varuna.)