Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment over going ahead with the Balakot air strikes despite overcast conditions on a recent television interview received backlash from opposition parties, including Congress and termed the statement as “ridiculous and false”.
“The weather was not good on the day of air strikes. There was a thought that crept in the minds of the experts that the day of strikes should be changed. However, I suggested that the clouds could actually help our planes escape the radars,” Modi said.
However, as per a report in Firstpost, a deeper dive into the working of radar technology and their limitations would prove Modi was not incorrect with his suggestions. Radars detect objects through the clouds but are more effective if the skies are clear
The accuracy of detectors is affected by weather conditions like rain or clouds. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica as cited by the report, “rain and other forms of precipitation can cause echo signals that mask the desired target echoes”.
For civilian aircraft, a secondary surveillance radar is used to overcome disturbance from clouds via a signal sent by transponders on the plane. However, as the air strike mission was a stealth mission into another nations air space, the transponders of the Indian aircraft would have been switched off.
With no secondary radar, the effectiveness of Pakistan’s primary detectors would have reduced due to the presence of clouds, and the fact that the IAF’s Mirage 2000’s penetrated the Pakistani air defence is more evidence that the overcast conditions prevented them from detecting the jets in their airspace.
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