Pakistan says it scrambled fighters to intercept Indian jets violating its airspace

Published On: February 26, 2019 10:14 AM NPT By: Agencies

ISLAMABAD, Feb 26: Details are still limited, but Pakistan claims that Indian military aircraft crossed the Line of Control separating both countries in the hotly contested Jammu and Kashmir region and violated its airspace, possibly in an attempt to strike targets on the Pakistani side. If true, this incident could threaten to provoke a major conflict between the two nuclear-armed nations, who have seen a precipitous decline in relations since a car bomb killed 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir earlier in February 2019.

Pakistani Major General Asif Ghafoor announced the violation, via his official Twitter account, early on Feb. 26, 2019, local time. He did not say how many Indian aircraft , or what type, had been involved in the reported incident or what the Pakistani Air Force's response consisted of afterward. An unconfirmed video appeared to show at least one JF-17 Thunder fighter jet heading off into the night at full afterburner.


BREAKING: Pakistani JF17 immediate retaliate back to Indian Air Force volition at Line of Control.

Pakistan Retaliate Karne Ka Soche Ga Nahi, Pakistan Retaliate Karega!! #PMIK

— Arsalan Siddiqy (@ArsalanISF) February 26, 2019

"Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back," Major General Ghafoor's Tweet read. "Details to follow."Ghafoor subsequently said that the Indian aircraft had head into the "Muzafarabad sector," which is a narrow portion of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. The Pakistani general added that the intruding planes had jettisoned unspecified stores, which landed near Balakot, which is in Pakistan's adjacent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. There were "no casualties or damage."

Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow.

— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 25, 2019

So far, there does not appear to be an official statement from the Indian government regarding the incident. Online plane spotters using flight tracking software did notice that there was an Indian Air Force Embraer EMB-145 airborne earlier warning aircraft in the skies near the border of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh to the south. The EMB-145s carry a large domestically-developed active-electronically scanned array radar that is especially adept at looking down from on high and detecting aircraft or cruise missiles. This would make the aircraft ideal for watching for any counter-attack, especially considering the mountainous terrain, which limits the coverage of land-based radars.

Another one of the aircraft, of which the Indian Air Force only has two, was spotted over the country's capital New Delhi in the aftermath of the incident, as well. An Il-78 Midas aerial refueling tanker was in the area, too.

On Feb. 24, 2019, Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, head of the Pakistani Air Force, had said his service was ready to "thwart any misadventure by the enemy," referring to India. Relations between the two countries have been at an all-time low since a terrorist drove a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device into a bus carrying Indian soldiers on a major highway in the Jammu and Kashmir region on Feb. 14, 2019.

The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 40 Indian military personnel and injured dozens more. The Indian government subsequently accused Pakistani authorities of being complicit in the bombing. The final status of Jammu and Kashmir has been at the center of a long-running and often violent dispute between India and Pakistan since the United Kingdom partitioned its Indian colony in 1947 and subsequently granted independence to both countries.

"The next steps will be taken by our armed forces," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on Feb. 16, 2019, raising concerns that the two countries, both of which have nuclear weapons, might be headed toward another major conflict. "What should be the time, what should be the plan, and what should be the form, they have been authorized to take all these decisions," he added.


Airborne Early Warning eyes in the sky up over New Delhi

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