Did air force use a secret bomb to strike Jaish camp at Balakot? - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

Home Top Ad


Friday 8 March 2019

Did air force use a secret bomb to strike Jaish camp at Balakot?

Army bomb experts say SPICE 2000 would have demolished buildings (photo: Pakistani soldier near alleged bomb crater in Balakot camp)

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 9th Mar 19

Army bomb experts say that if the Indian Air Force (IAF) had used SPICE 2000 precision-guided bombs to strike the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) camp in Balakot, Pakistan on February 26, they would have utterly demolished any regular brick-and-mortar buildings they hit.

The IAF has publicly insisted it hit its targets. If that is indeed true, then the lack of obvious damage could mean it has used a different bomb – possibly procured secretly from Israel.

Business Standard spoke to army explosives experts to verify the IAF’s claim, made anonymously to two national newspapers on Thursday, that the four buildings they hit in Balakot seemed externally undamaged in satellite photos because the bombs they used contained “only” 70-80 kilogrammes (kg) of high explosive.

“The warhead would not cause total destruction of the buildings hit and neither was this being aimed for,” said The Hindu, quoting a “senior defence official.”

This contention that 70-80 kg of explosive would spare the building is debunked by Major General Manik Sabherwal (Retired), the army explosives expert who was called in to reconstruct the explosive devices that killed former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.

“A bomb with 70-80 kg of military grade high explosive would destroy a two-storey or three-storey building. Its roof would be blown off, and most of its walls blown out,” Sabherwal told Business Standard.

Describing 70-80 kg as “a hell of a lot of explosive”, Sabherwal pointed out that an anti-tank mine, which can rip open the belly of a heavily armoured tank, weighs just 5 kg and a 155-millimetre artillery shell, which can bring down a building, contains just 12-15 kg of explosive.

There has been international scepticism over India’s claims of having killeda “very large number” of terrorists in Balakot. After Pakistan granted limited access to the targeted site to foreign news agencies, including Reuters, Associated Press, The New York Times, Washington Post and Al Jazeera, they reported that the camp buildings were intact. 

The same conclusion has been reached by satellite photo analyses by Jane’s Defence Weekly, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Reuters and Atlantic Council. In photos taken before and after the IAF strikes, the camp buildings appear unchanged.

However, Pakistani authorities have not yet allowed reporters to physically visit the buildings, raising questions about what they might be hiding.

The anonymous officials who briefed Indian Express explain this by claiming that the bombs used against Balakot are so specialised that they only made a small hole in the roof. If there is a “need to take out the people staying in a particular room without causing any damage to the adjacent room… We have the capacity to do that with this weapon”, they said, hinting at the possibility of secret, specialised munitions.

IAF sources have also made another claim to explain why the Balakot camp buildings are still standing. They say SPICE 2000 munitions are “bunker busting” weapons that explode only after penetrating the ground, diminishing their destructive power.

Rejecting that, Sabherwal said: “A bomb’s shock wave passes through solid medium like soil even more efficiently than through air. So if the bomb passed right through the building and exploded under it, that would create an even more disruptive shock wave that would disrupt the foundations of the building, bringing it down.”

Describing the effect on a building, another army bomb expert who requests anonymity since he is still serving, assesses: “70-80 per cent of the building would collapse, with only a part of the outer walls standing. The rest would be rubble.”

That again raises the question: did the IAF use a bomb with specialised effects, about which no details have been made public yet?

Air Marshal Nirdosh Tyagi, who headed the IAF’s equipment acquisitions, says the acquisition of the SPICE 2000 started in 2007 and took two-to-three years of trials to finalise. SPICE – which is an acronym for Smart Precise Impact and Cost Effective – is only a guidance kit that must be mated with a bomb, usually the Mark 84 bomb.

Before it is launched from an aircraft, the SPICE is loaded with the target’s precise latitude and longitude coordinates, towards which it is guided by a navigation unit that takes inputs from Global Position System (GPS) satellites and an on-board Inertial Navigation System (INS). As it approaches the target, a visual seeker switches on and, using “scene matching software”, homes in on the target, the photograph of which has been fed into the seeker before the mission.

Tyagi says, and this is corroborated on the website of Israeli company, Rafael, which supplies the SPICE 2000, that it can be launched from 60 km away from the target. That would have required IAF Mirage 2000s fighters to ingress at least 20 km across the Line of Control (LoC) before releasing their SPICE 2000 bombs towards Balakot. But IAF sources have been emphatic that the Mirages did not cross the LoC. Was there another, longer range, specialised munition?


  1. How many targets were bombed ...as tv channel reported airstrikes by India on terrorist launch pads in Chakothi,Muzaffarabad besides BALAKOT.

  2. If the attack was not fruitful why the hell are pakis protecting access to the jaish camp in balakot??? what is there so secretive that pakis want to protect the access to international journalists???

  3. Pak DGISPR tweets early as 6am IST indicates IAF planes were over Balakot.
    No journalist has been allowed into jaba hill even after 10 days. Why ?
    let us wait for truth to unravel.

  4. Now you Jumped Mr. Ajay... It was expected.
    Tell me Why Pakistan is denying access to UN/International Reporters to the location where India is claiming it had bombarded But surprisingly you don't mention this point. Why ???

    Your resources are always unknown Or ManGadanth (by your imagination)
    Why ???

    Seems you are having a different agenda even on National Issues , This is an observation created by your Half Cooked thoughts as blogs (MMRCA - India should buy F-35,, Rafel ,, Now Arial Strike ( & you didn't give credit to IAF going 50-60 KMs inside Pakistan)

    This Is
    Shyam Singh

  5. Just to add to the confusion/speculation... it could have been some thing like a 'cluster bomb'.

    Anyways, the Indian Air Force is an elite, professional fighting force, that is truthful and honest.

    The world trusts it and so do I.

    No point trusting the narrative of DG ISPR, a non credible source of Information which lied through its teeth, shamelessly disowning its own Pak regular army troops (newly inducted recruits) and claiming them to be Mujahideen in the Kargil Conflict.

    Even now they claim that trees were hit, No F -16 was used and other lies.

    Politicians both here and there and all the various parties will squable. But...

    Bottomline is IAF bitch slapped Pak ISI, JeM, PAF, nobody could do a damn thing about it.

    Pak fake bravado and all that 'natural warrior, Tac Nuke sabre rattling, Ghazi, allah is with us' BS propaganda called out.

    Quiet professionalism and hard training won the day, "Abhi" and unnamed others led the way.

    Our greatest weakness has been political will for punitive military action, which we now are improving.

    Parting quote "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin, Former President of the United States.

    1. "Just to add to the confusion/speculation... it could have been some thing like a 'cluster bomb'.

      Or a fuel air bomb,

  6. BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy has made a sensational disclosure by confessing that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was not informed about Tuesday’s air strikes into Pakistan by the Indian Air Force.

    Taking to Twitter, Swamy said, “I learn that our smash hit operation against terror camps in Pak and PoK was conceptualised by by just seven persons: PM NSA three service Chief and IB & RAW.”

    The revelation assumes significance since, according to him, while three service chief were involved in the planning and execution of the air strikes, their boss was kept in the dark.

  7. The IAF is, to put it kindly dissimulating, but anyone familiar with whitewash job of 1965 should not be surprised.

    There is now a concerted attempt through "friendly" media folks to insinuate that this was the (wink-wink) SPICE 250. Such attempts should be encouraged.

    a) because that will demolish other parts of the story relating to number of aircraft and number of munitions employed

    b) we can look forward to in the next Vayu Shakti, an IAF Air Marshal occupy a room in a building while the room next to it gets visited by 70-80kg of HE courtesy this superweapon, and the Air Marshal steps out of the building with nary a scratch, to great applause.

    Frankly no idea what is the bigger concern here - that the IAF thinks it can get away with such accounts or that the majority of Indian media and analysts fall for this.

  8. Dear Col Shukla,

    Your reporting on Balakote strike has been inconsistent and confuses more than it clarifies.

    1) IAF and Indian Government have confirmed that IAF jets did cross the LOC. Even Pakistan has confirmed that their airspace was violated from Muzafarrabad. So, your reporting that IAF emphatically states that it did not cross the LOC is just unwanted noise.

    2) IAF has not formally specified which ammunition was used. All that they have consistently said is that they have hit the targets. Speculation about the munitions is needless if they did indeed hit the targets. Why would we want to reveal the capability of our weapons as that would be classified data that can be useful to the enemy.

    3) Although there is a considerable skepticism about India's Balakote operations, however, Pakistan did not allow any international reporters to go to Balakote right from the day of the strike. If indeed no damage was inflicted, than there would be good many visuals of the site from international reporters that would have disproved India. However, even till today, Pakistan is restricting movements to the site of attack. That itself is a big admission that targets have been hit.

    4) IAF has visuals of the site through SAR images supplied by Indian satellites. Again releasing them would be compromising our capabilities just to convince a bunch of naysayers.

    5) Finally, war is not a school backyard fight of one-upmanship, rather it is executed to achieve strategic objectives. India conveyed a sound strategic message that the next terror strike can invite retaliation deep inside Pakistan borders. Pakistan and indeed the world will now know that the next Pulwama would mean consequences that will involve India climbing the escalation ladder. It should not be lost on the world that while India maybe did not get better results this time, however, Pakistan also just about managed to escape with their honor intact by the skin of their teeth. Next time, they will not be that lucky in hiding their F16 loss. While India's strategic posture is enhanced even if we suffered tactical reverses, however, Pakistan has lost the traditional Indian restraint that they could count on whenever terrorists succeeded in hitting India. Also, they might still get embargoed by US if they are found in violating of using American equipment. At the very least, US can extract concessions from Pakistan in their ongoing dialogue with Tabliban.

  9. From the evidence so far it seems that there was no damage done at Balakot. Also there is no evidence that an F16 was downed. All the pictures from the Pak side show Mig21 debris (including that engine casing). So all in all our defence forces received a punch in the face. The only positive might be the message that we will not be deterred by Pak nukes, i.e., now there are enough mad men in charge on both sides, and India will in the future respond to terrorist incidents. However given the result of the current Indian military response, Pak might be more than happy to have India respond again.

  10. The assessment of the experts is not correct for the version of the Spice 2000 used. In fact, none of these experts have worked on Bunker busting Air Launched munition. A 70-80 kg HE shaped progressive charge, exploded in a silo created by the penetrative bomb - for Balakot terrain at least 7 - 10 m for the 1000 kg penetrator, will cause less seismic disruption and more of a blast over pressure wave killing most of the soft skinned targets. The charge will be a a mix of HE and Fragmentation. Please take it back to you experts and discuss again. What is certain is that those roofs have been penetrated and there have been casualties. Get a consensus on the science of it, rather than getting non applicable domain experts. Contact Raphael, they will have the answer.... and then we will certainly give better weightage to claims being made by such an article.

  11. Sir,
    Yesterday evening I read your blog and wrote my comments that IAF could have or most probably used Fuel Air Explosive bombs.

    he focus of the discussion and directed attention has shifted to IAF. The reasons / objectives appear to be two , namely -

    1. Technically prove the IAF wrong and a lier. The government will automatically and by share logic appear to be lying. Demolish advantage BJP this way. Rather turn it into Negative act.

    2. IAF claims are too dangerous and too harmful for many around the world to believe specially for arms industry majors like Lockheed Martin. Imagine the effect of IAF claim of shooting down the legendary F-16 with junk MIG-21. That means a billion dollar business loss to such companies. In the presence of facts they are quite but to salvage the situation IAF needs to be discredited thoroughly. The Western majors and USA control technology, sensors and imaginary. Hide, obfuscate, confuse and muddle there to hide the facts. Do not allow the ground situation to be verified. How can The West ever accept that IAF can do such feats with French aircrafts and Indian pilots which they have rarely been able to do. It is a challenge to their domain of dominance, technology and markets. Demolishing IAF will kill many goose with a single arrow. Look at the barrage of well paid , well camouflaged and deliberately misinformed write ups appearing in almost every prominent paper. Lockheed Martin machine is in full swing, it appears.

    Look at the article below and and how deliberately the issue has been confused by not coming to conclusions. Though I know the IAF will have the last laugh. Wait and watch . Had there been nothing there the ISI/ Pakistan would have burst out by now.


  12. Do you see a hint of sarcasm in your article?

  13. A dossier of high-resolution satellite images and synthetic aperture radar imagery collected from an intelligence aircraft platform flying in Indian airspace, Indian Air Force has submitted proof of its precision air strikes in Balakot. The images have been submitted to government as proof that the Balakot airstrike was statengly successful.

    It would be better for you and your ammunition / explosive experts to analyse those rather than images circulated by European Consortium, Lockheed Martin, US sources and Pakistan. Your basic assumption that a bomb is only meant to cause a high pressure wave blast and damage the structure including walls is faulty at best. Bomb is only a casing which may contain killing many varieties of killing / damaging agents which may not bring down the structure. Destruction of a building has only two objectives - to cause casualties and destroy the structure. If the aim is to cause maximum casualties there are many other chemical processes to achieve it which may necessarily not destroy the structure. IAF never claimed they used high explosive bombs.

    So why shout from rooftop that the structures have not been destroyed so the IAF and the government are liars.

    And why such sarcasm in your byline ??

  14. IAF got the first batch of Su-30s from Russia in 1996 and has since contracted 272 aircraft, of which 240 have been inducted. But the construction of blast pens was not included in the original deal with Russia. So the IAF put up a proposal when Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne was the IAF chief. He served as the Chief of Air Staff from August 2011 to December 2013.

    On the morning of February 27, over 20 PAF jets, including F-16s, JF-17s and a few older Mirages, briefly crossed the LoC and attempted to drop H4 glide-bombs, but were intercepted by eight MiG-21 Bison jets. Mirage-2000s and Su-30MKIs were scrambled from bases around, but MiG-21s were the closest and reached the location immediately and engaged the PAF jets. While an F-16 was shot down, the IAF lost an MiG-21.

    Hence, the jets could not be forward-deployed along the LoC, and they were scrambled from behind to intercept the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets that tried to bomb Indian military installations, the official said, explaining why the MiG-21 jets were the first responders during the aerial combat a day after the Balakot air strikes.

  15. As an Indian…I want to spread a message to my paikistani brother and indian brother that indian and pakistani fought together with britishers to free our country but kisi ki Nazar lag gayi and we divided in 1948 …ok thats too was fine up to some extent …but it’s unfortunate that we still are fighting each other for a piece of land which will always reamin on it’s palce till earth will exist…but we are losing and killing each one’s dear and near ones…we are killing our generations and gifting this disputes to our coming generations… country like China America France Israel Russia are selling weapons to us and we avoiding our poverty and other core issues for development buying to enhance our weapons powers…
    This disputes can only be resolved through us…a EEC free movement like situation will have to create by indian and pakistani awaam…our politicians too are playing a big role to differentiate us…and I feel sad when we abuse each other on social media..

  16. Well , for a third party, Pakistan has given atleast some evidence in form of mig21 crash debry and the captured pilot...So Pakistan is telling the truth, while India is lying...

    1. The video from social media clearly shows three parachutes....

      Please explain how Pak PM CLAIMED two IAF PILOTS....ONE IN HOSPITAL

  17. For the neutral:

    IAF have better aircrafts than PAF (on paper) but couldn't launch a single BVR. It is generally believed that PAF basically achieved Air Superiority at the time the incident happened. Somehow they blinded our AWACS, SU-30MKI radar and Mirage2K. They made Su-30MKIs look ordinary. That will send a shock to IAF that they won't recover for a while.

    All that hoola ha of yesteryear of getting locks on USAF in training and PAF during Kargil. Well Paks had all the mordern IAF aircraft type under lock for extended periods.

    Air Superiority over PAF in 48 hours. LOL

    IAF got owned by PAF.



      BAD LUCK

    2. If SU30MKI had the position of Pak F16s i.e. they had missile locks then why didn't they fire BVRs , there are unconfirmed reports that AAMRAMs were fired by Pak F16S targetting SU-30MKI, that means PAK F16s had missile locks on SU30MKI. Also it would be interesting to know why upgraded MIG 29s were not srambled instead of MIG 21s

    3. MIG 21s do not have satellite data links, procurement of the same was delayed by bureaucrats def min, now the order had been placed to an Israeli Company, soon all IAF fighters will have datalinks

  18. My contention made in earlier comment that Arms Exporters and big Defence Manufactures are on their tows to discredit India has proven correct. See India related coverage by Newyork Times of the day.

    Do not give them company.

  19. ++++ "Anonymous said...
    Well , for a third party, Pakistan has given atleast some evidence in form of mig21 crash debry and the captured pilot...So Pakistan is telling the truth, while India is lying..."

    => BUT Pakistan also shown another wreckage presented as remains of the 2nd MiG-21 while you CLEARLY recognise the GE's F110 engine chequered tubular envelope... So Pakistan is telling lies!


    2. http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/26880/enough-with-the-indian-mig-21-bison-versus-pakistani-f-16-viper-bullshit

    3. But Pakistan F-16s do not have GE engines. Every single PAF F-16, including those from Jordan have P&W engine with very different looks.

  20. How does it matter what bomb ? We went in bombed , got out safely. Even to date , Pak is not allowing anyone, their airspace closed. Quite much damage must have been. Let us be proud of this.

  21. The reason the Pakistanis don’t allow anyone there is because it’s a terrorist camp not a lovey dovey Madrasa , it might underline their support of the extremists of what the world might find there , if we missed why not admit it and say we try again but to paint a picture of we got them is absolutel bulshit, one of my friends said maybe it was a xray bomb 😜

  22. Unknown said : "one of my friends said maybe it was a xray bomb 😜"
    ====> A X-Ray generator used for industrial radiology, if you're in its Ray-area for 8 minutes, you reach a 100% lethal dose of radiations!

    Sudip Das said : "If SU30MKI had the position of Pak F16s i.e. they had missile locks then why didn't they fire BVRs , there are unconfirmed reports that AAMRAMs were fired by Pak F16S targetting SU-30MKI, that means PAK F16s had missile locks on SU30MKI. Also it would be interesting to know why upgraded MIG 29s were not srambled instead of MIG 21s"
    ====> AFAIK, since IAF hasn't received budget for hardened shelters, they prefer not to keep Su-30MKI too close to the border to avoid potential surprise attack, same for M-2000.
    So MiG-21 Bison were 1st responders.
    Export R-77 (RVV-AE) ranges 80km, AIM-120C ranges 120KM (R-77 used by Russia ranges 100km. I'm not speaking of later version like R-77-1 or K-77M).
    If ever I purchased ear from Russia, I'd be clear : either I buy the same gear VKS uses or they can shove their missiles in their a**es... No way I'd purchase what they call "monkey models".
    I'd serously watch the S-400 they will deliver : their radars and missiles have "export versions" too ;-)

  23. Why were they detected so late, AWACS as well as SU30MKI on combat air patrol should ha ve detected the PAF fighter aircraft the moment tbey were airborne, were they blinded by ECM of PAK F16

  24. Hey there, Mr. Shukla!
    I just finished reading your article about the Air Force's secret bomb strike, and I couldn't resist leaving a comment. First and foremost, I want to commend you on your impeccable research and in-depth analysis. It's evident that you've put a lot of effort into uncovering the details behind this covert mission, and your writing has a way of pulling the reader right into the heart of the story.

    I've always been fascinated by military operations, and your piece shed light on a side of the Air Force that most of us rarely get to glimpse. The secrecy surrounding these missions only adds to the intrigue, and your ability to convey the tension and excitement of the events is truly commendable. As a reader, I felt like I was right there in the control room, holding my breath as the mission unfolded. Your work is both informative and gripping, and it's thanks to writers like you that we get to learn about these hidden aspects of our military's activities. Looking forward to more captivating articles from you in the future!https://certifiedtranslationservicesusa.com


Recent Posts

Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last