Addressing a function in New Delhi on Tuesday, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa stressed that the 27 February Kashmir dogfight illustrated the IAF’s network-centric warfare capabilities.
"The IAF is prepared to fight across the entire spectrum of warfare, be it an all-out war, a skirmish like Kargil conflict or retaliation to a terrorist attack", said the air force chief, who carried out air-to-ground bombing with a MiG-21 aircraft at night in the Himalayan mountains in the 1999 Kargil War. The IAF had carried out first ever such bombing with MiG-21 to drive out infiltrators from Kargil.
He also emphasised that the Kargil War had transformed the IAF’s capability to counter any kind of air threat in conventional and sub-conventional domains.
On 27 February, India and Pakistan engaged in their first direct air clash in decades after New Delhi conducted an aerial strike to destroy alleged terror infrastructure in the Balakot region deep inside Pakistan. Since February this year, the two nuclear-armed nations have been deploying their mainstream fighter jets at frontline air bases. Pakistan has asked India to withdraw these fighter jets to de-escalate the tensions.
Dhanoa said that the Balakot air strike had proven the capabilities to conduct precision bombing that previously existed only on the Mirage-2000 during Kargil, but is now available on upgraded Su-30, Jaguar, MiG-29, and MiG-27 planes.
Earlier this year, Dhanoa had said that the induction of S-400 air missile defence systems and Rafale fighter jets will further tilt the technological balance in India’s favour. Russia is hoping to receive an advance payment for the S-400 air defence systems from India by the end of 2019 so that the deliveries may begin in 2020 and be completed by 2025. India signed a $5.43 billion deal with Russia in October 2018 to purchase five units of S-400 air defence missile system.