New Delhi: For the first time, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-mounted explosives have been used to target an Indian Air Force (IAF) base. Two UAVs dropped explosives close to a Mi-17 hanger late last night. Such was the intensity of one blast that it punched a hole into the concrete roof of a building close to the hanger.

Both the Jammu & Kashmir Police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are probing the terror strike. It is still unclear whether the UAV came from across the India-Pakistan border or was it guided from a building or an elevated point close to the IAF base in Jammu. But the terror strike marks a paradigm shift in grey-zone warfare.

High perimeter walls, barbed wire and sentry posts can no longer stall the enemy attack. From a safe distance, the enemy can launch an attack from a stand-off distance. Some drones can fly up to 20 kilometres, carrying a couple of kilograms of payload -- from pizzas to bombs -- and there are unmanned combat aerial vehicles that can fly thousands of kilometres with an endurance of two days and can carry rockets and missiles. The terrorists appear to have used a Type 1 or Type 2 UAV.

Q: Did India Know About The Threat?

A: For the past two years plus, Pakistan has been using UAVs to send AK-47 assault rifles, ammunition and drugs into India, especially across the Punjab and Jammu border. Several drones have been sighted and neutralised in the past and weapons recovered.

Q: Can Radars Detect Drones?

A: According to the IAF, radars can detect some military drones but not small quadcopters. There are special Kurf radars for smaller, slower flying UAVs but the effort so far has been to educate troops on ground and police to identify the threat and then neutralise it.

Q: Will India Retaliate?

A: India took pre-emptive steps to neutralise the threat of imminent attack both during the Surgical Strikes and the Balakot air strike. After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India did not retaliate but presented evidence in a court of law requesting Pakistan to take action against the perpetrators.

Q: How Will We Keep Assets Safe?

A: This is the biggest challenge for security forces. Fighter jets can be kept in blast pens but radars and multiple other assets remain exposed to the threat from the skies. Therefore at sensitive Bases on the basis of threat perception, specialised radars, lasers and anti aircraft guns will have to be deployed. There are guns with a high rate of fire -- 4,600 rounds a minute -- to neutralise incoming threat. Lasers can destroy the target in the sky.

Q: Is Pakistan Trying To Escalate And Why?

A: The Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) will lose their importance in Pakistan if there is peace. In Pakistan, the army rules the country and to remain in power needs India as a permanent threat. Therefore, the Pakistani Deep State has not dismantled the India Centric Mil-Jihad complex. Pakistan also does not want the world to see PM Modi's efforts in J&K succeed. It is trying to keep J&K on slow boil.

Q: Is There An Afghan Angle Or Connection To The Blast In Lahore?

A: The recovery of an IED in Jammu and the arrest of an LeT over ground worker in Jammu tasked to carry out a blast in a crowded market do point a finger towards the LeT but need more evidence to be able to draw a link to Lahore. There is no visible Afghan link, though LeT terrorists are increasingly being trained in operating drones and making IEDs from Afghan-trained terrorists.

Q: Can India Do The Same?

A: Pakistan uses terror as an instrument of state policy. India may take measures to protect own skies and assets but so far has carried out only pre-emptive strikes after the Uri and Pulwama terror attacks to prevent more terror strikes.