Terror drone threat to India just became a reality
The threat of drone-based attacks had been a major concern for the security establishment. With the attack on the Jammu Air Force Station, the worst fears have come true.
The drone attack on Air Force Station in Jammu comes days after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval expressed serious concern over the use of this technology by terrorist outfits.
At the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Dushanbe, Doval had said that there is a need to monitor new technologies used by terrorists, including drones for smuggling of weapons and misuse of the dark web, artificial intelligence, blockchain and social media.
The threat of drone-based attacks has been a major concern for the security establishment.
In October last year, Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen S K Saini had said that drones stand out among other threats in their innovative employment and destructive potential.
He had said that considering the low cost of drones and their multi-use ability, the threat would increase manifold in the time to come.
Even Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat had barely three days ago warned that terrorists working with the Pakistan Army could go rogue, and that could escalate the situation with India.
The CDS had said while the ceasefire has been maintained along the Line of Control, the internal peace process is being disrupted by drones that are infiltrating with weapons and drugs.
The seriousness with which the Indian security establishment views the drone-based terror threat is understandable, considering the numerous instances of Pakistan-origin drones crossing the border with arms and ammunition in recent months.
The first reported incident of dropping of arms and weapons through drones from Pakistan came to light in September 2019 when Punjab police recovered AK-47 rifles, hand grenades, ammunition, fake currency and other items in Tarn Taran district.
In June last year, the BSF had shot down a hexacopter with a payload of 5.5 kg in the Kathua district, leading to the recovery of sophisticated arms.
In December 2020, 11 grenades dropped by a drone were recovered from a field near the International Border in Punjab's Gurdaspur district.
In January, intelligence agencies had red-flagged threats posed by terror groups operating from Pakistan using Chinese commercial drones to attack targets close to the border. The cheap Chinese drones have the ability to hover at low speeds for hours and are relatively easy to operate. According to sources, Pakistani's espionage agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, has supplied hundreds of these drones to state and non-state actors in Pakistan.
In March 2021, a Pakistani drone entered the Indian territory at Punjab's Pathankot district. Alert BSF soldiers fired at the drone and forced it to return across the border into Pakistan.
In the wake of security challenges posed by drones, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued revised guidelines for the use of the technology.
The new rules, released in March this year, prohibits drones within 25 km from international borders like the Line of Control, Line of Actual Control, and Actual Ground Position Line.
Also, flying drones has been banned around military installations unless clearance is obtained from the local military facility. However, experts believe that the new guidelines need more teeth. The punitive measures suggested in the current guidelines may not be an effective deterrent.