Just how far India can escalate tensions with Pakistan without going to war is difficult to forecast. The Indian air strikes of February 26 have rejigged the spectrum of possibilities. For decades, conventional wisdom was that the use of air power was somehow an escalation.
So, India did not use its air force in the 1962 war, where it may have prevented our disastrous defeat. In 1965 too, operations went on through August in J&K minus the use of air power. Only when Pakistan attacked Chamb and threatened to cut the Jammu-Poonch road, the IAF was hurriedly brought into the battle by then defence minister Y.B. Chavan at around 4 pm. He sought and got the cabinet sanction for his action later.