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Balakot & Kashmir: Fact Checkers Expose Indian Lies

Indian government and media have made a series of false claims about Balakot "militant casualties" and "shooting down Pakistani F16". Both of these claims have been scrutinized and debunked by independent journalists, experts and fact checkers. There is no dispute about the fact that Squadron Leader Hasan Siddiqui of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), flying a Pakistan-made JF-17 fighter, shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force (IAF) flying a Russia made MiG 21. Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan and then released to India.

Pakistani F-16:

PAF's Hasan Siddiqui (above) shot down IAF's Wing Commander Abhi (below)

Indian government and media claimed that an Indian Air Force pilot shot down a Pakistani F-16 on February 26, 2019 over Kashmir. This claim and the evidence offered were examined by Belling Cat, a fact-check site that successfully investigated the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine. Belling Cat's Veli-Pekka Kivimäkithere concluded that "no compelling evidence offered as of yet that an F-16 would have been shot down, and all signs point to MiG-21 wreckage having been on display thus far".

Abhijit Aiyar Mitra, an Indian aviation expert participating in an India Today TV Show, embarrassed the show host on a live show when asked to identify a wrecked engine as being an F-16 engine. The expert correctly stated that Pakistani F-16s are equipped with Pratt and Whitney engines and what the TV host was calling a Pakistani F-16 engine was made by a different manufacturer.

Both Kivimäki and Mitra concluded that the image offered as evidence of Pakistani F-16 engine was in fact from a MiG 21 wreckage.

Balakot Casualties:

Announcing the Indian air strikes in Pakistan, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale claimed the strike killed “a very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, trainers, senior commanders, and groups of jihadis who were being trained for Fidayeen action were eliminated.” Another senior government official told reporters that about 300 militants had been killed.

The Indian government claim was soon followed by a video clip purportedly capturing a portion of that air strike on social media. Fact Check site snopes.com analyzed this video and declared the Indian claim "false".

Reuter reporters visited the target area in Balkot in Pakistan and talked to an eyewitness who said, “No one died. Only some pine trees died, they were cut down. A crow also died.” Here's an excerpt from the Reuter's report:

People in the area said Jaish-e Mohammad did have a presence, running not an active training camp but a madrassa, or religious school, less than a kilometer from where the bombs fell. “It is Taleem ul Quran madrassa. The kids from the village study there. There is no training,” said Nooran Shah, another villager.

Indian Warplane Down:

There is no dispute about the fact that Squadron Leader Hasan Siddiqui of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), flying a Pakistan-made JF-17 fighter, shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force (IAF) flying a Russia made MiG 21. Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan and then released to India.

Summary:

All of the Indian claims about "JeM militant casualties" and shooting down of Pakistani F-16 have been debunked by independent fact-checkers and foreign media reporting on it.  Villagers in Balakot told Reuters that "Only some pine trees died, they were cut down. A crow also died.”  Belling Cat's Veli-Pekka Kivimäkithere and Indian analyst Abhijit Mitra have said that the images of the wreckage being offered as proof of downed F-16 are in fact from MiG-21. There is no dispute about the fact that Squadron Leader Hasan Siddiqui of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), flying a Pakistan-made JF-17 fighter, shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force (IAF) flying a Russia made MiG 21. Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan and then released to India.

Here's a video clip of Indian aviation expert Abhijit Mitra embarrassing his India Today host:

https://youtu.be/FJ8MmTvRZ8Q

Views: 224

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 27, 2019 at 2:16pm
#India's Air Force making excuses for failures against #Pakistan Air Force. Claims #tech failures in aerial battles with Pakistan. #IAF says Pakistan “has been consistently enhancing its air defense and offensive capabilities.” #Balakot #Kashmir  –  https://www.rt.com/news/457701-iaf-report-admits-failures-pakistan/
Airstrikes against ‘terrorist’ targets in Pakistan and subsequent aerial battles with Islamabad’s warplanes would have been more successful if India had better technology, a service report cited by local media admits.
The Indian Air Force’s ‘lessons learnt’ assessment primarily covered February’s retaliatory airstrike on a suspected jihadist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan, resulting in a military flare-up with its neighbor. It found that IAF warplanes would have been able to do serious damage to their Pakistani adversaries – if they had access to weapons capable of doing so in the first place.
The wording of the report was somewhat careful about admitting this fact openly, suggesting that they would have been able to compete with their opponents more effectively if they had possessed “technological asymmetry.”
A litany of technical issues was found to have hampered the IAF’s combat prowess. On top of problems integrating new weapons with the available hardware, one of the fighter jet’s missiles apparently failed to deploy from the aircraft altogether due to issues with its navigation system. The same issue had featured in an earlier embarrassing report which suggested that India had likely shot down its own helicopter with a malfunctioning missile while attempting to target encroaching enemy craft.
The latest review also noted that since 1999’s Kargil War, Pakistan “has been consistently enhancing its air defense and offensive capabilities,” demonstrated in the recent clashes by their use of F-16 fighter jets, giving Islamabad an edge. India’s hardware, meanwhile, has become increasingly outdated.
“We felt we could not punish the adversaries appropriately. So we need to bolster technological asymmetry so that the enemy does not even dare to come close to the border,” one source told India’s Economic Times. While things didn’t go exactly as expected, the report reminds readers that “no battle plan ever survives the first contact with the enemy.”
India also maintained that it carried out the assault into Pakistani airspace in order to strike a training facility used by the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which had carried out an attack in Pulwama, killing 40 Indian troops. However, Pakistan has consistently denied the existence of such camps, and said that the raid had merely destroyed some trees.
Comment by Riaz Haq on June 7, 2019 at 7:01am

#India to buy 100 more of the #Israeli bunker-buster "smart" bombs... the kind that failed to hit targets in #Balakot #Pakistan in February this year. #Modi #IAF — RT World News https://www.rt.com/news/461289-israel-india-bombs-spice-pakistan/


The Indian Air Force has inked a deal with an Israeli defense firm to restock its arsenal with an advanced version of a bunker-buster bomb it had used in an airstrike against an alleged terrorist hideout in Pakistan in February.
New Delhi will purchase 100 more SPICE-2000 bombs for an estimated $43.2 million. SPICE stands for “smart, precise-impact and cost-effective” and is manufactured by the Israeli defense technology company Rafael. The munitions are expected to be delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) within the next three months.

Designed to destroy bunkers and other buildings, the bombs are an advanced version of the munitions deployed when the IAF attacked the suspected terrorist compound in Balakot, Pakistan, earlier this year. Islamabad responded with strikes of its own the next day, eventually downing an Indian F-16 after a brief dogfight.

The high-tech SPICE bomb has a range of 60 km and uses real-time data to adjust its flight path according to changing factors.

Since February’s brief clash, India and Pakistan have traded hostile rhetoric, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing Pakistan in April of allowing terrorists to attack India, and threatening to hit Pakistan with“the mother of all nuclear bombs.”

That comment prompted Pakistan military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor to warn India against testing his country’s “resolve.”

India’s Air Force hasn’t always been so lucky to possess cutting-edge technology. Last month, Modi was widely mocked after suggesting that the IAF may have used clouds to evade Pakistani radar during February’s air raid.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 15, 2019 at 10:10am

#Modi's suspect #GDP numbers have done real damage. #India's actual GDP growth between 2012 and 2017, according to Arvind Subramanian’s working paper for #Harvard U., may have been 2.5% lower than the official 7% rate...closer to 4.5%. http://www.ecoti.in/NAkSVb via @economictimes

This week, a top former government adviser (Arvind Subramanian) provided a statistical estimate. The actual GDP growth rate between 2012 and 2017, according to Arvind Subramanian’s working paper for Harvard University, may have been 2.5 percentage points lower than the official 7% rate.

India’s level of economic output may be overstated by anywhere between 9% and 21%. The issue isn’t whether Subramanian’s technique of looking at other countries’ performance to build a picture of India’s growth is robust. As ..

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 21, 2019 at 7:35am

After complaints from #Indian users and #Hindu Nationalist government of #India's prime minister #Modi, #Twitter in mid-June 2019 suspended several users and suppressed the #truth about #Indian-#Pakistani military conflict. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/india-trying-suppress-milita...

The suspensions targeting the so-called “open-source intelligence,” or OSINT, community raises serious questions about Twitter’s commitment to fairness, facts and intellectual freedom. Equally troubling is the Indian government’s apparent influence on a social-media platform with millions of users all over the world.

The accounts Twitter targeted all had one thing in common. They questioned the Indian government’s claims in the aftermath of the brief but intensive aerial clash between Indian and Pakistani warplanes over Kashmir in February 2019.

The battle began when Indian planes on Feb. 26, 2019 attempted to bomb an alleged Pakistani training camp outside Balakot, near the border with Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan claim the mountainous region. Military skirmishes and militant violence are frequent in Kashmir. 

At least one Indian warplane, a MiG-21, was destroyed. Pakistani troops briefly held the pilot before repatriating him. New Delhi claimed its own forces shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter, but provided no evidence.

OSINT accounts closely followed the fighting and challenged claims from Indian and Pakistani sources. Open-source intelligence practitioners usually rely on a mix of news reports, social media, commercial satellite imagery and public ship- and flight-tracking software to keep tabs on military operations.

The OSINT analyst with the Twitter handle @ELINTNews the day of the initial Indian air raid questioned India’s claim that its jets shot down an F-16. “No evidence so far to corroborate India’s claim of it downing a Pakistani plane,” ELINTNews noted. By contrast, images quickly appeared on-line confirming Pakistan’s destruction of an Indian MiG.

A count of Pakistani F-16s later confirmed that none were missing.

Months later, India retaliated against the Twitter OSINT community. Reporter Snehesh Alex Philip summarized the situation in a June 18, 2019 story in The Print. “The social media giant has told handles like the popular @ELINTNews, that they’ve been suspended for ‘violating Indian laws.’”


“Seems they're knocking off the big OSINT accounts due to Indian complaints that they're terrorists, or something,” Steffan Watkins, a prominent Canadian OSINT analyst, told The National Interest.

“The move has led to speculation that the Indian Air Force is behind it,” Philip explained. “However, sources in the IAF remained tight-lipped about this development, with some also expressing ignorance.”

A notice Twitter sent to @ELINTNews confirmed that the social-media company had received “official correspondence” that prompted the ban.

Great Game India, a journal based in Hyderabad, celebrated Twitter’s attack on OSINT. “Very welcome step,” the journal tweeted. The journal in May 2019 conducted what one reporter described as an “independent social media tracking operation” and accused OSINT analysts of being fronts for the Pakistani government.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 13, 2019 at 11:04am

Pro-India #American analyst Christine Fair: #Pakistan came out ahead in #Balakot #Kashmir conflict in Feb 2019. #India does not have the capability to decisively defeat #Pakistan in a short war.. https://youtu.be/erbBPdAWZQg via @YouTube

In a wide-ranging interview to ThePrint, strategic scholar from Georgetown University, Christine Fair talks about her book on Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Balakot air strike, and India's ideal strategy towards Pakistan.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 6, 2019 at 7:52am

How the IAF compares with the PAF
Bidanda Chengappa | Updated on March 01, 2019 Published on March 01, 2019

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/how-the-iaf-compares-w...

The IAF has maintained a numerical edge in terms of fighter aircraft over the PAF of almost 3:1. With depletion of numbers in the IAF’s combat squadrons, this edge is currently down to around 1.4:1. The strength of the combat squadrons will soon drop below 30 squadrons. Once the IAF gets back to its sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons, the edge should evolve to 2:1.

An IAF fighter squadron has 18 operationally deployed aircraft with three in reserve. This totals to 900 fighter aircraft of which around two squadrons or 40 aircraft may cease to be fully operational every year as they reach the end of their life. But the IAF is unlikely to get the 42 squadrons till 2035.

-----------------------


The PAF currently has 22 fighter aircraft squadrons that translate into about 410 aircraft. These include around 70 JF-17s, 45 F-16s, 69 Mirage IIIs, 90 Mirage Vs and 136 F-7s. The JF-17, a China-designed aircraft, is claimed to be a fourth-generation, multi-role aircraft. It is reported that another 100 are on order.

The PAF plans to acquire 250 aircraft to replace its Mirage IIIs and F-7s. Some of these would be Block 2 version with 4.5 generation features while some more would be Block 3 and are expected to have fifth-generation characteristics. The PAF is also said to have placed an order for 36 Chinese J-10s a 4.5 generation aircraft. The J-10 is expected to be inducted as the FC-20, an advanced PAF-specific variant.

The PAF’s fighter aircraft currently are of four types, which are planned to be reduced to three multi-role types, namely the F-16, JF-17 and FC-20 by 2025. Russia and Pakistan have also been talking about the possible purchase of the Sukhoi-35 air-superiority multi-role fighter. The PAF plans to procure 30-40 Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter aircraft to replace the F-16 fighter jets. The FC-31 is designed to fly close air support, air interdiction and other missions. However, the PAF is more likely to employ conventional tactical aircraft rather than stealth aircraft in actual missions to support Pakistani ground forces.

Seventh largest
The PAF with a smaller fighter aircraft inventory is the seventh largest air force in the world and the largest in the Islamic world. PAF pilots are well-trained, with battle experience and high morale. The PAF is also an inherently air-defence oriented force. As earlier, in an exclusive Indo-Pak war scenario, the PAF will be kept head-down by the IAF and is likely to be defeated. In the shadow of nuclear stand-off, a full-fledged war is less likely.

In a limited war as a follow-up to a trigger incident or a surgical strike, the IAF will be much better placed on account of its larger weapon inventory and superior platforms. There is a considerable scope for conventional offensive action short of the nuclear threshold.

Lately, the induction of Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft into the subcontinent has altered the regional strategic environment. It enables the two sides to keep an eye on each other, and in India’s case, Pakistan’s ally China. These AEW aircraft provide low altitude coverage for both sides, looking into mountain valleys and across the horizon over the sea.

Pakistan’s diverse terrain, which includes sea, desert, glaciers and mountains, means monitoring these areas was ‘patchy’ because ground based air defence radars cannot cover the sea, and not always the land. While the PAF has two AEW aircraft, the IAF has two AWACS and three AEW aircraft, which will make air warfare that much more challenging in the subcontinent.

The writer is a Professor of International Relations and Strategic Studies at Christ Deemed to be University, Bengaluru

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