Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s father retired Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman, who was briefly in Pakistan’s custody said the laser-guided smart bombs (SPICE-2000) used to attack the terror camp at Jaish terror camp in Balakot could have killed 250 to 300 terrorists.
Simhakutty Varthaman, while addressing the students of defence studies at IIT-Madras on Wednesday about the February 22 air strikes on the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror main training camp at Balakot in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, he said, "The Indian Air Force strike happened when the maximum targets were inside the camp. The structural damage might be limited, but the fuse of the bomb is delayed to ensure maximum casualties."
Stressing on Pakistan’s F-16s and AMRAAM missiles, Varthaman said they were the real threat to us. We had to first get F-16s off our back by making sure they were headed to some other direction when we were going to Balakot. So we did a lot of deception," reported TOI.
"Basically, we launched seven aircraft towards Bahawalpur, which is the headquarters of JeM. Pakistan thought we were on the way to attack Bahawalpur and sent F-16s to engage with our fighter aircraft. Simultaneously, we launched aircraft to attack Balakot. In a nutshell, the Pakistan Air Force was deceived completely," he explained.
"Pakistan was in a total state of alert, they knew an attack from India was imminent. However, they did not realise that we got into their territory," he added. The decorated air marshal, however, added that this was his reading of the events, which may not be the absolute truth. "The exact details may come out months later," he said.
The IAF airstrike on Balakot, followed by the Pulwama attack, was the first time IAF aircraft had crossed the Indian airspace since the 1971 war with Pakistan, air marshal Vardhaman said. "When fighter aircraft fly 10km within the border, radars alert us to turn back. If a pilot goes within 8km of the border, he faces a lot of questions and inquiry.”
During the aerial fight with PAF jets, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman safely ejected on Pakistan’s soil after his jet was shot down. He was successfully brought his home back within 60 hours from Pakistan’s custody. He was mentally harassed following which he underwent medical treatment.