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First drone attack carried out in Indian territory at air force base in Jammu: Reports

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is leading a probe into the suspected drone attack, along with the IAF,  J&K Police, and forensic experts, reports said. 

The Indian government is currently investigating the suspected use of drones in an attack on an Indian Air Force base in Jammu Airport, according to several reports including Press Trust of India. The incident is claimed to be the first instance of a drone attack in the country’s territory.

The twin blasts at the high-security airport happened at 1.37 am and 1.43 am and caused minor injuries to two IAF personnel, reports said. While one blast caused damage to the roof of a building, another bomb exploded in an open area, the media wing of the Indian Air Force tweeted. The IAF also said that there was no damage to any equipment.

The usage of the drone was confirmed by Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbagh to NDTV. The news organisation quoted Dilbagh saying, “Drones with payload were used in both the blasts at Jammu airfield. Another crude bomb was found by the Jammu police. This IED was received by a Lashkar e Taiba operative and was to be planted at some crowded place.”

As of the publication of the story, MediaNama was not able to independently verify the usage of drones in this attack. We have reached out to J&K Police DGP Dilbagh Singh with queries, and the copy will be updated when we receive a response.

Post the incident, teams from IAF, National Bomb Data Centre, forensic experts, and J&K Police have initiated an investigation into the matter. NDTV reported that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over the probe. Apart from that, an FIR has been registered under the anti-terror UAPA Act, a law that allows the arrest of suspects and their detention for up to six months without evidence.

Fresh attempt to attack via drones foiled

On Monday, a statement by Lt Col Devender Anand, Defence (PRO), said that two separate drone activities were spotted over the Ratnuchak-Kaluchak Military area by troops on the intervening midnight of Sunday and Monday.

A PTI report quoting the same statement said, “Both the drones flew away. A major threat was thwarted by the alertness and proactive approach of troops.” In 2002, the military station at Kaluchak was subject to an attack in which 31 people including three military personnel, 16 Army family members, and 11 civilians were killed.

The attack comes at a time when the Indian Army for the past two months has been amping up its arsenal to acquire artificial intelligence-equipped drones that can be deployed during various attacking scenarios. MediaNama, in the past one-and-a-half months, has come across and reviewed two tenders available publicly on defproc.gov.in floated by the Indian Army which lists its requirement for —

  • Two fixed-wing drones for high altitude area (HAA) with capabilities of explosive payload delivery, and
  • Swarm drones for kinetic strikes

Drone attacks across the globe

Houthi attacks on Saudi airbase: Earlier this month, Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed that they launched a bomb-laden drone attack on the King Khalid Air Base in Saudi Arabia’s southern city of Khamis Mushait, a report by IANS said. The Iran-backed Houthis began in February a major offensive against the Saudi-backed Yemeni government army to capture the oil-rich province of Marib, which hosts nearly 2 million internally displaced people.

Azerbaijan’s drones in Nagorno-Karabakh: Drones have been used extensively in the Nagorno Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. An article by the Print opined that the war could be the only one whose result seemed to be influenced by the usage of drone warfare. While Armenia fought with tanks, artillery, and air defence systems, Azerbaijan relied on drones, specifically Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 and Israeli-made Kamikaze drones.

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