Abhinandan's father said laser-guided smart bombs (SPICE - 2000) used to attack Balakot terror camp could have killed 250 to 300 terrorists. The Indian Air Force strike happened when maximum targets were inside the camp, he said. "The exact details may come out months later," he added

CHENNAI: Air Marshal Simhakutty Vardhaman (Retd), father of wing commander Abhinandan who was briefly in Pakistan custody, says the laser-guided smart bombs (SPICE-2000) used to attack the terror camp at Balakot could have killed 250 to 300 terrorists.

Talking to students of defence studies at IIT-Madras on Wednesday about the air strikes on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror training camp at Balakot in Pakistan, he said, "The Indian Air Force strike happened when the maximum targets were inside the camp. The structural damage might be limited, but the fuse of the bomb is delayed to ensure maximum casualties."

"Pakistan’s F-16s and AMRAAM missiles were the real threat to us. We had to first get F-16s off our back by making sure they were headed to some other direction when we were going to Balakot. So we did a lot of deception," he said.

"Basically, we launched seven aircraft towards Bahawalpur, which is the headquarters of JeM. Pakistan thought we were on the way to attack Bahawalpur and sent F-16s to engage with our fighter aircraft. Simultaneously, we launched aircraft to attack Balakot. In a nutshell, the Pakistan Air Force was deceived completely," he explained.

"Pakistan was in a total state of alert, they knew an attack from India was imminent. However, they did not realise that we got into their territory," he added. The decorated air marshal, however, added that this was his reading of the events, which may not be the absolute truth. "The exact details may come out months later," he said.

The Balakot operation was the first time IAF aircraft had crossed the border since the 1971 war with Pakistan, air marshal Vardhaman said. "When fighter aircraft fly 10 km within the border, radars alert us to turn back. If a pilot goes within 8 km of the border, he faces a lot of questions and inquiry," he said.

"As a nation, we decided to violate this huge thumb rule and went inside Pakistan. But, the government clearly mentioned that it was a nonmilitary, preemptive strike. The selection of the target was also conditioned by our desire to avoid civilian casualties. The facility was located in a thick forest on a hilltop far away from civilian presence," he pointed out.