Balakot Airstrike Current Affairs - 2020

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EX TSENTR 2019: India, Pakistan forces to be part of military exercise in Russia

Armies of India, Pakistan will take part in this year’s military exercise TSENTR 2019 that will be conducted by Russia from September 9 to 23, 2019. This will be the first time that forces from India and Pakistan will participate in multilateral exercise together since airstrikes conducted by Indian force, deep in Pakistan’s Balakot district in February 2019. Earlier armies of India and Pakistan had met last year as part of military exercise conducted by Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) – also held in Russia.

Background

Russia holds major military exercise every year at one of its four military Commands i.e Vostok (East), Zapad (West), TSENTR (Centre) and Kavkas (South). It rotates through four main Russian operational strategic commands.

About Exercise TSENTR 2019

It will be conducted as part of the annual series of large scale exercises that form part of Russian Armed Forces’ annual training cycle. This year it will be conducted by Central Military Commission of Russia at Donguz training ranges, Orenburg, Russia. Apart from host Russia, military contingents from China, Tajikistan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan will also take part in this mega event.

This year’s exercise is aimed at evolving drills of participating armies in fight against international terrorism and ensuring military security in strategic central Asian region. Its strategic measures will mainly focus on evaluating level of troop preparedness, raising level of inter- operability, acquisition of required skills and demonstrate readiness of participating armies.

It will comprise two modules-

(i) 1st module: It will include counter- terror operations, repelling air strikes, reconnaissance operations and defensive measures.

(ii) 2nd Module: It will focus on offensive operations.

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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).

Key Highlights

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.

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