The tensions between Pakistan and India have sparked fears of a 2019-like aerial dogfight after a Pakistani fighter jet was reportedly spotted near the Line of Control on Monday morning.
“The jet flew close to the LoC in Poonch sector in violation of international conventions, which do not allow fighter jets to fly within a 10km radius of the border,” an Indian defense spokesperson was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
The spokesperson said that a jet stream was clearly visible in the sky close to the LoC in Poonch. The area has been put on high alert while security agencies are ascertaining what the fighter jet was doing exactly.
The incident, that comes amid a rising number of cross-border firings between the two countries, has sparked speculation of a dogfight, similar to the one noticed on February 27, 2019, a day after Indian Air Force jets dropped bombs on “terror launchpads” in Balakot.
On Monday, Pakistani Rangers had opened fire at border outposts along the border in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said. A Pakistani drone was also spotted by India’s Border Security Forces (BSF) in the Arnia sector along the 198-km long international border in Jammu district on Saturday evening.
There were more than 3,800 incidents of “ceasefire violations” along the Line of Control (LoC) in the year, as per reports.
In 2019, India had carried out a cross-border operation to avenge the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers by a Pakistani terrorist organization.
Indian Air Force officials had stated that the Indian fighter jets crossed the Line of Control and hit ‘Jaish-e-Mohammed’ terror camps in Balakot, Pakistan.
Pakistan retaliated with its fighter jets crossing over into the Indian territory on February 27, 2019. Indian media reports said a group of jets including 10 US-made F-16 Fighting Falcons flew towards India, resulting in a dogfight with Indian Air Force fighters.
The fierce fight had resulted in India losing a MiG-21 Bison jet as it crashed in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir and its pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured by the Pakistan Army. India had also accidentally shot down its own chopper.
India had claimed shooting down a Pakistani F-16, a claim that was rejected by Islamabad.
Will India Use Rafale this time?
In April, former Indian Air Force (IAF) chief BS Dhanoa had said that once Rafale jets are inducted, Pakistan won’t dare to come near the Line of Control (LoC) or the international border.
In an exclusive interview with news agency ANI, Dhanoa said: “When the Rafale comes in, it will ensure that the deterrence of our air defense will increase manifold and they (Pakistan) will not come anywhere near our Line of Control or border. That kind of capability we will possess for which presently they (Pakistan) don’t have an answer.”
The first batch of five Rafale jets was formally inducted into the No.17 ‘Golden Arrows’ squadron of the IAF on September 10 at the Ambala Air Force Station, which is in close proximity to both Pakistan and China borders.