Josy Joseph in New Delhi
Indian Army Special Forces and Indian Air Force had conducted mock commando attacks during Operation Parakram to prepare itself for possible lightning raids into Pakistani territory to destroy terrorist camps and their logistical bases.
"Most of our targets were on the hilly northern areas," a senior officer said, as the IAF gave the first detailed insight into its preparations during the standoff with Pakistan, which saw a heightened state of military mobilisation.
The eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation flared up after the December 13 attack on Parliament last year. The mobilisation was withdrawn last month.
The IAF also for the first time confirmed that it assisted the Indian Army in evicting Pakistani intruders from a military post along the Kashmir border
The officer told rediff.com they had pressed 12 fighters into services for what the media called 'Kargil II', and four of the fighters struck at the target within 24 hours of the army requesting assistance.
The army headquarters in August flatly denied 'Kargil II', when it was first reported.
"During entire Operation Parakram period we were fully prepared for deep penetration strikes into Pakistani territory, as the Western Air Command augmented its fighter and radar abilities," he said.
After the full mobilisation on both the sides, the IAF enjoyed a clear domination over their Pakistani counterparts, he added.
From peacetime's 12 squadrons, Pakistan had raised its air force deployment to 16 squadrons across India's Western Air Command, by almost completely draining out its Central Air Command to the border with India.
From its usual aircraft strength of some 144 fighters, the number was upped to 200 fighters fully ready against India.
The Western Air Command increased its squadron strength from the usual 17 to 23 and the number of aircraft from 204 to 272.
Against Pakistan's 20 air superiority fighters, Western Air Command had 58, and for the 60 deep strike fighters, the WAC had deployed 96 such aircraft.
The New Delhi-based Western Air Command of the IAF covers an area of some 400,000 square kilometres, and accounts for about 30 per cent of the entire IAF's man strength.
The biggest command of the air force covers most of Pakistan and a large bit of the Chinese border in the Ladakh side.
The Pakistani radar coverage was 'highly optimised towards low-level coverage', a senior WAC officer said.
The Pakistani weakness, however, was the lack of radar cover above a certain height. Pakistan's surface-to-air weapons were mostly shoulder-fired, like US-made Stingers, and were ineffective above some 10,000-feet height, the officer said. "India had comparatively powerful surface-to-air missiles."
Even now the WAC is ready to go into action 'within 24 hours', the officer added.
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