Indian Air Force (IAF) sources have claimed that they have evidence that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman indeed shot down Pakistan Air Force F-16 aircraft 7-8 km inside Pakistan Occupied Area in Sabzkot area there during a dogfight on February 27. The response came after a US report has raised doubts over India’s claims of shooting down one of Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet planes in an air skirmish between the two nations.
IAF sources confirmed that radio communication of Pakistan Air Force intercepted by it confirms that one of the F-16s that attacked India on February 27 did not return to its base, news agency ANI reported.
The IAF has also confirmed sighting ejections at two different places on that day. The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km. One was an IAF MIG-21 Bison, which was being flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and the other a PAF aircraft. "Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate PAF aircraft was a F-16," the IAF said.
When the incident occurred, India asked the US government to investigate whether Pakistan's use of the F-16 against India violated the terms of the foreign military sale agreements.
(F-16 fighter jet. Representative image)
The Indian Air Force on February 28 displayed pieces of the AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir.
According to the magazine report, Pakistan had invited the US to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalised.
Two senior US defence officials told Foreign Policy (FP) that US personnel counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing. Pakistan’s military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor, however, denied that any F-16 had been shot and added that in the Pakistan Air Force operations that day, no F-16 had been deployed.
"Allah be praised, truth always prevails. Time for India to speak truth about false claims & actual losses on their side including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan. India needs introspection especially over atrocities in IOK (Indian Occupied Kashmir). Region needs peace, progress & prosperity," Asif Ghafoor, spokesman for the Pakistani military, tweeted.
Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT told FP that this may affect India’s efforts to deter Pakistan in the future.
“It looks increasingly like India failed to impose significant costs on Pakistan, but lost a plane and a helicopter of its own in the process,” Narang told FP.