Issue Brief on “Indian Strategic Misadventures Ahead of Elections: Deployment of MiG-29 in IIOJK”

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Introduction

India deployed MiG-29 aircraft at the Srinagar Air Base in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK). Many analysts had already predicted such a mischievous deed by India ahead of the elections to garner the support of the public. According to recent news that surfaced, the Trident Squadron also dubbed as ‘Defenders of the North’ has replaced the previously stationed MiG-21, [1] which the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down during Operation Swift Retort of February 2019.[2] The Indian Air Force (IAF) seems to believe that the replaced jets would facilitate a prompt response to counter the potential threats from bordering countries, Pakistan and China. According to IAF, the MiG-29 fulfils all the necessary criteria for this task.[3]

The MiG-29 seems to be the choice for the IAF due to better avionics, long-range missiles, night vision, and air-to-air refueling. For combat purposes, the aircraft is equipped with air-to-ground armament and has the jamming capability to disrupt communication. The IAF seems to believe that the advanced aircraft and the forward-base location provide them a strategic advantage. MiG-29 is said to have been flying over the occupied valley since January 2023. It is also believed that IAF has deployed Israeli Heron Mark II unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the Srinagar Air Force base in IIOJK that is equipped with laser guided bombs and diverse payloads.[4] Heron Mark II UAVs can reach a height of 10,000 meters, remain in the air for 45 consecutive hours, and can fly at a maximum speed of 140 knots.[5] Due to its satellite communication links and ‘beyond line of sight’ capability, Heron would play a prominent role in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions along India’s borders with Pakistan and China.

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