NEW DELHI: India scrambled fighters after radars detected a Pakistani drone near the international border in the Khemkaran sector of Punjab in the early hours of Monday. Though Pakistan too scrambled jets in response, there was no airspace violation from either side and tensions quietened down soon after.
With both sides maintaining high operational readiness all along borders, even as they engage in fierce firing duels across the 778-km long LoC in J&K, defence sources said the alarm bells in India’s air defence network sounded around 3am on Monday when “a large Pakistani unmanned aerial vehicle” was detected in Khemkaran sector.
The IAF swung into action by scrambling two Sukhoi-30MKI fighters from the Halwara airbase, which led to Pakistan dispatching two F-16s to the border region.
“The Pakistani UAV was picked up by both Army units and IAF’s mobile observation flights,” a source said.
There have been regular intrusions by Pakistani UAVs, and at least four of them were shot down by Indian forces, ever since the IAF conducted pre-dawn air strikes on a Jaish-e-Muhammed terror facility at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26.
A day later, Pakistan had retaliated by sending a ‘strike package’ of 24 fighters, including F-16s, JF-17s and Mirage-5 jets, to target Indian military installations across the LoC. Though IAF foiled the attempt, it lost a MiG-21 being flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman just after he shot down an F-16.