Hours after two low-intensity explosions were reported in the technical area of Jammu Air Force Station on Sunday, 27 June, Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh has said that a drone was used to drop the explosive material.
DGP Dilbag Singh also said that in another incident, an improvised explosive device (IED) weighing 5-6 kg was recovered by the Jammu police.
He said this was received by an Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit operative and was to be planted at some crowded place.
"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," Singh told NDTV.
Officials told NDTV that the blasts have caused concern as they could mark the first time that a drone had been employed to launch such an attack in India. This would then be the first-of-its-kind drone attack on a high-security vital asset in India.
However, this is not the first time that drone usage has been detected against India.
Drone Usage Detected in the Past
14 May 2021: The Border Security Force (BSF) recovered weaponry from a field in Jammu's Samba sector after it received intelligence of ammunition being dropped in the region. An AK-47 assault rifle, 15 rounds for a 9 mm weapon, and a pistol wrapped in a polyethene had been found 250m from the border, as per an Indian Express report. A wooden frame that had ostensibly been used to fix the payload to the drone had also been found with the consignment.
20 June 2020: A hexacopter-model drone dropping off weaponry had been shot down by the BSF near the Line of Control in Kathua district's Rathua village.The 18 kg drone was fitted with a radio signal and 2 GPS devices. It had carried a payload of 5 kg, consisting of a US-manufactured M4 semi-automatic carbine, 60 rounds, 2 magazines and seven Chinese grenades. The payload also bore the name "Ali Bhai," a persona, the BSF suspected, who would be the receiver of the consignment, awaiting the the delivery within a 1-1.5km range of the drop-off site.
- 24 April 2021: The BSF reported that it had sighted two drones entering the Indian territory's Arnia sector from the direction of the country's border with Pakistan. A security force spokesperson indicated that the BSF had received intelligence about the entry of drones in order to drop off arms and ammunition in the country. The Border Guards deployed in the region immediately fired at the drones upon sighting them, forcing them to retreat, as per a New Indian Express report.
- 22 September 2020: Two payloads ostensibly delivered by a drone were discovered in J&K's Akhnoor district, 12 km inside the Indian mainland.The consignments comprised three AK magazines, two AK-47 assault rifles. 90 rounds of 7.62 MM Ammunition, one Star Pistol, two pistol magazines, and 14 Rounds of 9 MM Ammunition, news agency ANI reported. Jammu SSP Shridhar Patil had indicated that the weapons were meant to be handed over to terrorists in Kashmir Valley, and that an initial investigation evinced that militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed was behind the consignments.
- A Spate of Drone Detections in November-December 2020.
On 20 November 2020, two drones navigating from the direction of Pakistan were sighted crossing the international border into the Samba district of J&K at 6 pm in the evening, ANI had reported.
A similar incident had also taken place on 29 November 2020, when a drone had intruded into the Ranbir Singh Pura Sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The border troops had fired upon the drone, upon which it had retired to Pakistan, ANI had reported.
Shortly after, another drone sighting occurred in RS Pura sector on 10 December 2020, which, too, withdrew as the alerted BSF troops fired at the carrier.
“In the past few years, we have seen an increase in the use of drones for dropping weapons and explosives. We have even seen them dropping assembled IEDs for use later. The Jammu attack is the first instance of drones being used directly for an attack," a security officer told The Indian Express.
(With inputs from NDTV, ANI, The New Indian Express, and The Indian Express)