Air Chief Birender Singh Dhanoa on Monday said Pakistan Air Force planes did not cross the Line of Control (LoC) during the February 27 dogfight in the aftermath of the Balakot air strike, a military objective which India achieved.
"Pakistan did not come into our airspace. Our objective was to strike terror camps. Their objective was to target army places. None of them crossed the border. We achieved our military objective. None of them crossed the Line of Control into our territory," he said.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa was speaking at a press meet after the Indian Air Force at its Gwalior airbase recreated the Tiger Hill attack and displayed aircraft used during the 'Operation Vijay' to commemorate 20 years of the Kargil conflict.
Replying to questions, the Air Chief said, "They (Pakistan) have closed their airspace...that is their problem. Our economy is vibrant and air traffic is a very important part and you have noticed that the Air Force has never stopped our civilian air traffic."
He recalled, "Only on February 27 (this year) we had stopped Srinagar airspace for two-three hours...We did not allow tension with Pakistan to dictate our civil aviation because our economy is much bigger and much stronger as compared to theirs."
Dhanoa also said the integration of targeting pods and laser-guided bomb system for the Mirage 2000 aircraft for the Kargil war was done in a record time of 12 days.
"Modification to the Mirage 2000 was in process and expedited, and system was brought in place for the Kargil War," the IAF chief said.
"The integration of Litening targeting pod and laser-guided bomb system was done in a record time of 12 days," the IAF chief said.
He also said deploying Mirage 2000 jets and air support to ground forces turned the tide of the 1999 war.
To a question on the recent crash of an IAF AN-32 aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh, Dhanoa said, "AN-32 aircraft will continue to fly in mountainous areas. We don't have any replacement."
"We are in process of getting more modern aircraft which will be put in critical role once received, and AN-32 will be out and used for transport and training purposes," he said.
All 13 air-warriors on board the transport aircraft died in the crash in a heavily forested mountainous area in Arunachal Pradesh this month.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine