We Hit Target But Don’t Calculate Casualties: Air Force Chief

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Coimbatore: Silencing the opposition who had raised doubt over the air strike in Balakot in Pakistan, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on Monday asserted the intended target was hit but refused to cite the number of casualties in the attack.

“We can’t count how many people have died. It depends on how many people were there,” the Air Chief said, addressing a press conference.

His statement came against the backdrop of the opposition parties such as the Congress, TMC and other regional partied questioning the success of the attack and if it was a success.

Though the government, while calling the strike a success, has put out no official figure, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday claimed that “250 terrorists have been killed”.

The Air Force chief said it is up to the government to clarify that.

When asked about the target and if the mission was a success, he said: “The target has been clearly amplified by the Foreign Secretary in his statement and if we planned to hit the target, we hit the target… otherwise why would they (Pakistan) have responded? If we had dropped bombs in the jungle there would be no need to respond,” he said, officially dismissing allegations that the strike had missed the target.

Speaking on the capability of the MiG-21 Bison, that was used in the air strike, he said that the MiG-21 used in the dog fight with Pakistan’s F-16 was an upgraded aircraft with an advanced weapons system.

“It has been upgraded, it has better radar, air-to-air missiles and better weapons system,” he said.

Asked about Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s return to service, he said: “Whether he (Abhinandan) flies or not depends on his medical fitness. That’s why post-ejection, he has undergone a medical check. Whatever treatment is required, will be given. Once we get his medical fitness, he will get into a fighter’s cockpit.”

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