Indian Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria on Tuesday said the Balakot airstrike marked a major shift in the government’s policy on national security, reported ANI. Indian Air Force jets had struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist camp in Balakot in Khyber Paktunkhwa province of Pakistan on February 26, in retaliation for the killing of 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Pulwama on February 14.

“Strategic relevance of this [Balakot airstrike] is the resolve of political leadership to punish perpetrators of terrorism,” Bhadauria said at the 87th founding day celebrations at the Hindon base in Ghaziabad. Senior officials from the three armed forces attended the event.

Bhadauria said that the present environment in the neighbourhood was a matter of “serious concern”, adding that the Pulwama attack was a “stark reminder of the persistent threat to defence installations”.

The IAF chief decorated the 51 Squadron and the 9 Squadron for their role in the Balakot airstrike, reported The Indian Express. The Air Force also released a promotional video that included a narration on the airstrike.

The IAF was founded on October 8, 1932. As part of the founding day celebrations, sky divers of the Akash Ganga team dropped out of an AN-32 aircraft while the Chinook heavy-lift twin-rotor transport helicopter and the Apache attack helicopters were also showcased.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his gratitude to the personnel. “Today, on Air Force Day, a proud nation expresses gratitude to our air warriors and their families,” he tweeted. “The Indian Air Force continues to serve India with utmost dedication and excellence.”

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the IAF was a “shining example of exemplary courage, fortitude, determination and impeccable service to our nation”. Singh will take delivery of India’s first Rafale fighter jets in France later in the day.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.