Operation Bandar: IAF’s code name for Balakot Airstrike
The preemptive non military air strike conducted by Indian Air Force (IAF) on a terrorist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan, on 26 February 2019 was code-named Operation Bandar (Monkey).
The code name was given as a nondescript, mundane tag to the air strikes, in order to maintain secrecy and ensure that plans about Balakot operations don’t leak out.
Although as per the defence officials there was not any specific reason behind the name chosen but in general a monkey have had a cultural significance and held a special place in India’s war culture such as in Ramayana, where Lord Rama’s lieutenant Lord Hanuman swiftly sneaked into Lanka and destroyed entire capital city of Ravana.
The Indian Air Force is planning to reward IAF pilots who took part in attack with Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) for their acts of bravery.
About Balakot Air Strike
As a response to Pulwama terror attack which claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) security personnel and whose responsibility was taken by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), 12 IAF Mirage-2000 fighter jets struck on JeM training camp in in Balakot town of Khyber Pakhtunwa province inside Pakistan in early hours on 26 February with precision guided munitions.
The IAF pilots carried out pre-dawn attacks by dropping five Spice 2000 bombs on their designated targets and returned to their bases. The aircraft used in strike belonged to No 7 and No 9 squadrons of IAF and included non-upgraded planes.
On one hand some of Mirage aircraft carried out attack on Jaish positions while a team of other few Mirages and Su-30MKI combat aircraft were engaged in keeping Pakistan air force planes away from causing any hindrance to Balakot operation or launching any counter-offensive.
The operations were ably supported by indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control systems (AEW&C) plane Netra and IAF had also kept its Garud commandos team on stand-by for any kind of emergency oparation.