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Indian Air Force considering to change missile-firing procedure to ensure video feed post-Balakot airstrike: Reports

IAF considering to change missile-firing procedure to ensure video feed post-Balakot airstrike: The 100-km long-range air-to-surface stand-off Crystal Maze missile, manufactured by Rafael, can provide real-time video feed of the bomb hitting pre-designated targets.

Indian Air Force considering to change missile-firing procedure to ensure video feed post-Balakot airstrike: Reports
File photo of Rafael (Israel) manufactured Crystal Maze air-to-surface missiles.

IAF considering to change missile-firing procedure to ensure video feed post-Balakot airstrike: The Indian Air Force (IAF) is considering to change the firing procedure for missile and bombs after it faced backlash for failing to show video proof of Balakot airstrike carried out by its Mirage 2000 fighter jets on December 26, 2018, The Print reported on Monday. During the preemptive air raid, the IAF pilots could not launch the Israeli-manufactured Crystal Maze air-to-surface missiles due to laid down protocols. Otherwise, the Crystal Maze missiles launched along with the SPICE-2000 bombs would have provided real-time video feed of the bombs hitting the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camps in Balakot and the same video could have been used as an irrefutable proof to show IAF’s combat capability. On December 26, 2018, six Mirage 2000 aircraft were carrying SPICE-2000s while another six were carrying the Crystal Maze.

Initially, the IAF had planned to use the Crystal Maze missile in conjunction with SPICE 2000 penetrator bombs, but the presence of low clouds prevented the launch of six Crystal Maze missiles, reports said. The 100-km long-range air-to-surface stand-off missile, manufactured by Rafael, can be launched from a fighter aircraft to destroy command and control centres, enemy bunkers and terrorist training camps. Crystal Maze is accurate with an error range of within three meters and carries an 80 kg warhead. The guided missile is similar to the Popeye all-weather bunker-busting missile.

The Crystal Maze flies to its target based on pre-fed Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates but requires the pilot of the launching platform to manually steer it to its precise point of impact through an electronic data-link. India had signed the Crystal Maze agreement with Israel in 2003, but the Indian Air Force gave the green light in December 2005.

The IAF was tasked with targeting three out of six structures at Balakot. A two-storey building that housed most of the cadres, including suicide bombers in training, was the primary target, and was hit by three Spice 2000 bombs, reports said. The other two buildings hit were a guesthouse and a single-storey building believed to house new recruits. Satellite images show that the SPICE-2000 bombs destroyed at least two targets.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Kargil war, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa on Monday said Pakistan Air Force jets didn’t violate Indian airspace after Balakot airstrike carried out by the IAF jets on February 26, 2019. Addressing reporters, the Chief of Air Staff said the IAF’s objective was to strike terror camps and their’s was to target our army bases. While the IAF achieved its military objective, none of the Pakistani jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC), he added.

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