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IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari on Wednesday said “Balakot-like operations” have shown that given political will, aerospace power can be effectively used beyond enemy lines.

In his address at a seminar on “Aerospace Power in Future Conflicts” here, he also said that as nations increasingly rely on space-based assets for building strategic advantage, “militarisation and weaponisation of space has become an inevitable reality”.

“Through the annals of human history, the skies have often been regarded as realms of wonder and exploration, where dreams take flight and boundaries dissolve into the vast blue expanse,” he said.

Yet, beneath this calmness lies a domain “fraught with competition where contest for aerial superiority” has shaped the destiny of many nations and decided the outcome of many wars, the chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) said.

“As we navigate these uncharted skies, air power being a key component of national power, would undoubtedly play a pivotal role and also serve as a symbol of national strength, a tool for peace and cooperation,” he said.

The IAF chief said, “We all need to acknowledge that wars of the future will be fought differently.”

Future conflicts will be characterised by a blend of simultaneous application of kinetic and non-kinetic forces, high-levels of battle space transparency, multi-domain operations, a high-degree of precision, enhanced lethality, a compressed sensor-to-shooter cycle, and of course, all under intense media scrutiny, he said.

The air chief marshal also said, “Balakot-like operations have shown that given the political will, aerospace power can be effectively carried out beyond enemy lines, in a no-war, no-peace scenario, under a nuclear overhang without escalating into a full-blown conflict.”

The IAF struck a Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot area on February 26, 2019, in response to the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. The Pakistan Air Force had retaliated the next day by unsuccessfully targeting various military installations in Jammu and Kashmir.

In April 2019, while addressing a gathering at a seminar on aerospace power of the future and the impact of technology, the then IAF chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa had said that technology was on India’s side in the Balakot air strikes, and had asserted that the results would have been further tilted in the country’s favour if the Rafale jets were inducted in time.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari in his address on Wednesday said space has also emerged as a “critical domain for conduct of military operations”, wherein seamless communication, navigation and surveillance capabilities would enhance survivability of modern military forces.