India to Buy More Air-to-Air Missiles Amid F-16 Deployment by Pakistan – Report

The Indo-Pak border has become a hot-bed of hostilities after the 14 February Pulwama terror incident. Indian fighter jets are doing patrol sorties on a continual basis in fully weaponised mode carrying air-to-air rockets.

New Delhi (Sputnik): As combat air patrol missions continue near the Pakistani border, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has asked the defence ministry to procure additional air-to-air missiles for its fighter jets on urgent basis. A media report published by the Indian English daily Economic Times said that the fast track purchase has been sought because replenishment of missiles and other ammunition had been deemed necessary under the current scenario as Indian fighter jets have had to undertake additional sorties in fully-loaded mode.

“These missiles have a certain life, which is counted in terms of the age of the system in years. But when fighter jets are operationally deployed, the life of the missile depends on the number of sorties being undertaken. So we need fresh replenishments”, the media report read citing top government sources.

Pakistan has reportedly moved terror camps out of IAF reach to the country’s far west region namely the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Its air force had been undertaking night patrol flights along the Indo-Pak border using its F-16s on a regular basis and its air defence network is also on continuous alert.

India has in place its frontline fighter jets, including the Sukhoi Su-30MKIs and Mirage 2000s, for quick reaction in case hostilities escalate. The IAF has also increased fighter strength at its air bases in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The F-16s have been placed all across Pakistani airbases and are still trained at us. They are continuing to undertake night flights and have their air defence network on alert”, the newspaper report read citing its sources.

Speaking about developments at ground level, defence sources have told Sputnik that night flights have been stopped. In addition, the total number of sorties per day has declined near the Line of Control (de facto border between the two nuclear armed nations) since Saturday. “Yes, regular combat air patrol missions are there. But it seems situation in terms of air patrol is more or less normal now”, sources added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has not yet opened its airspace for civilian traffic even though normal flying has resumed on the Indian side.

India and Pakistan engaged in their first air clash in decades when on 26 February Indian fighter jets violated Pakistan’s territorial integrity and conducted a “non military, pre-emptive” air strike in Balakot inside Pakistan to destroy infrastructure allegedly belonging to terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed. It was this jihadi outfit that had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama Attack on 14 February in which 40 Indian soldiers were killed.