Having humiliated Pakistan on different occasions by striking terror camps and killing scores of terrorists by the Indian Army's special forces after the URI terror attack, India went further to add another feather in its cap by wiping out JeM terror camps in Balakot deep inside Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and killing more than 300 terrorists who were getting trained to strike in India just 12 days after the horrid Pulwama attack. The Indian armed forces seem to be retaliating against Pakistan at will.

The third and the latest triumph was to foil a retaliatory attack by Pakistan Air force with 24 jets to target Indian military installations in Jammu & Kashmir but the Pakistani aircraft were intercepted by eight IAF fighters, which included MiG-21 Bison fighters which is around 60 years old.

It was reported that Pakistani Air Force strike package included eight modern 4th-gen F-16s, four Mirage-3 aircraft, four Chinese made JF-17 "Thunder" fighters. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was in hot pursuit of a Pakistani F-16 jet, which he engaged with an R-73 air-to-air missile shot down his enemy aircraft in seconds. All the other enemy fighters scurried away to safety after IAF exerted tremendous pressure on the hapless Pakistani pilots.


Days after the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp in Pakistan’s Balakot, sources revealed on Monday that technical surveillance conducted by the Indian intelligence services in the days leading up to the air strike had confirmed around 300 active mobile connections in the facility. The information, revealed through the surveillance conducted by the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), gives a fair indication of the number of terrorists killed in the February 26 airstrike. As per the report, the NTRO had commenced surveillance of the Jaish-e-Mohammad facility after the IAF was given permission to target the camp in Balakot. During technical surveillance, it emerged that there was a presence of around 300 mobile phones with active signal strength inside the facility in the days leading up to the strike. The facility was destroyed by the IAF fighters.

Of particular interest is that India over the last few years has launched several space based military assets for surveillance & reconnaissance to monitor troop movements along the borders of both Pakistan and China. That India’s space capabilities allow its armed forces to be more effective in planning is no secret. Information accessed from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) shows satellites keep a watch over Pakistan and provide high definition mapping of 87% of its land area, providing vital inputs to the armed forces’ operations like the Balakot airstrikes. This is the amazing extent of India’s reach. These military satellites provides ‘area of interest’ (AOI) images based on specific requests.


Israel has often been held up as a case study across the globe for ‘anti-terror operations’. While acknowledging that the Israeli military, intelligence apparatus and broader security establishment “have used every tool in the book over the past 71 years to counter, harass and intimidate their terror adversaries and gain the upper hand”, India has learnt much from Israel, obliquely emulating Israel-like operations against Pakistan. Prime Minister Modi feels a kindred spirit with Israel in terms of how to act out being ‘strong’ against terrorism.

Having exhausted both the land and air option and the crucial element of surprising the enemy, the next obvious choice for India is to take the ballistic strike route to eliminate terrorist dens in other locations in Pakistan. This time the natural target is could be Bahawalpur another JeM stronghold with missile strikes from its bases in the western arena. India has a bevy of missiles to undertake this feat, the ballistic approach is a far superior option because it lacks the risk of human loss.


It is important to have an array of missiles capable of striking deep inside the enemy territory, but it is equally important to have a technology that can block incoming hostile missile attack. However, it is imperative that stringent planning is required to counter a sure-fire Pakistani reaction to the strikes. India must bolster its air defences to the maximum so as to cause minimum damage and exact maximum kill prospects. One of the best option for the the military planners to fall back on would be to install India's Ballistic Missile defence systems comprising of both the Endo-Atmospheric Advanced Air Defence Missile (AAD) and the Exo-Atmospheric Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) for the multi-tier shield of our airspace. The role of other air defence systems that India posses would be nevertheless predefined.

An illustration of how a typical ballistic missile defence system would operate


Theoretically, a hostile missile can be intercepted at the launch point, mid-course (flight through space), or terminal phase (during atmospheric descent).

Practically speaking, the first option is almost ruled out as it is would be next to impossible to know where the missile is being launched till the time it is launched. A country needs to have a high level of intelligence gathering capabilities with moles in the top chain of command of the enemy to know exactly when and where a missile launch would take place. This seems highly improbable as the know-how of a missile launch is known only to topmost generals.

Intercepting a missile in next two phases of its flight seem like a plausible option but one needs to bear in mind that the speed of a ballistic missile is just too high for systems to predict its precise location and path. Most of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) systems and Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) systems aim at blocking the missile in these two phases with the focus more being on intercepting missile's ballistic trajectory outside the atmosphere.

India is now only the fourth country after Russia, Israel and the US to have successfully tested a BMD system.

India's BMD is a two-layered platform. PDV is supposed to tackle incoming missiles at ranges of 80-120 km (Exo-atmospheric interception). On the other hand, the AAD mainly consists missiles that can intercept incoming missiles at ranges of 15-30 km (Endo-atmospheric interception).

Both the AAD & PDV interceptors are guided by high accuracy Inertial Navigation System (INS) and supported by a Redundant Micro Navigation System (RMNS). The interceptors zero in on the hostile missile with the help of infrared (IR) seeker and inertial guidance.

Swordfish Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR) is a long-range tracking radar specifically developed to counter ballistic missile threat. Its main function is target acquisition of incoming missile and provides guidance to interceptors (PDV and AAD) to hit its target in space. This radar has a range of over 800 km and can be used for tracking trajectories. India is upgrading this radar to increase its range to 1,500 km.


This author does not profess war nor its benefits thereof, however, it is imperative that the guilty must be punished by reciprocative action and the terror resources comprising both men and material completely destroyed. The prerogative of the government is to protect its people and this would be the right preemptive step to ensure India's safety against the cowardly acts of terrorism carried out by its irksome neighbour. The risks are enormous but with proper strategy and planning the armed forces can pull it off as it is time India pays back in spades.

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