A senior Indian Air Force official on Monday seemed to back Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that clouds could help fighter jets evade detection by Pakistani radars during the operation.
In an interview to News Nation on May 11, Narendra Modi had claimed that he gave the Indian Air Force the green signal to proceed with airstrikes in Pakistan’s Balakot area on February 26 despite bad weather because “the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars”. Opposition parties had mocked the prime minister’s remarks.
Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, commanding-in-chief of Western Air Command, said clouds do prevent radars from detecting accurately. “That is true up to some effect that very strong clouds and very strong convective conditions in clouds prevent the radar from detecting very accurately,” he said, according to ANI.
Nambiar’s statement came days after Army Staff General Bipin Rawat reportedly said that sometimes certain radars could not see through clouds. “There are various kinds of radars working with different technologies,” PTI quoted Rawat as saying on Sunday. “Some have the capacity to see through, some don’t have the capacity to see through. Some kinds of radar cannot see through clouds because of the manner in which it is operating. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t.”
The prime minister had claimed to have used his “raw wisdom” to dispel the doubts of defence experts who planned the mission. “I am surprised that the country’s pundits who abuse me never figured this out,” he had told the news channel.
However, as many experts had noted on social media, Modi’s observation had no scientific basis. Radar technology uses radio waves to detect objects that may be obscured by fog. So, the clouds over region on Balakot would not have given Indian fighter jets any advantage.
The airstrikes – described by the Indian government as a “non-military preemptive action” – were conducted on February 26, 12 days after a terror attack in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir killed 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force. The Jaish-e-Mohammed group, whose leaders are based in Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the attack.