In what evidentially nullifies a US media report which denied that India shot down a Pakistani F-16, the Indian Air Force on Monday released radar images which show Pakistan's F-16 being shot down by the IAF's MIG 21 Bison during the aerial dogfight on February 27.
The Foreign Policy magazine of the United States had on Friday reported that American personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and none of them were missing, contradicting India’s claim that one of its war planes downed an F-16 during the aerial dogfight.
Releasing the AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) radar images, the IAF said it has "irrefutable evidence" that Pakistan's F-16 was shot down and that too by IAF's MIG 21 Bison which was flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
Indian Air Force (IAF) releases AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) radar images. pic.twitter.com/axy2uVObWZ— ANI (@ANI) April 8, 2019
"There is no doubt that two aircraft went down in the aerial engagement on 27 February 2019 one of which was the bison of IAF while the other was F-16 of Pakistan Air Force conclusively identified by its electronic signature and radio transcripts," said the statement.
Addressing the media, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said: "Have more credible evidence that is clearly indicative of fact that Pakistan has lost one F-16 however due to security and confidentiality concerns we are restricting the information being shared in the public domain."
"PAF aircraft fired multiple AMRAAM missiles which were defeated by use of counter measures and tactical manoeuvres. In the aerial combat that followed one Mig 21 Bison of the IAF piloted by Wg Cdr Abhinandan shot down one F-16 of PAF. As show in in radar image of slide, the F-16 crashed and fell across the LOC in PO J&K. The IAF lost one Mig 21 in the aerial engagement and the pilot wg cdr Abhinandan ejected safely but his parachute drifted into PO J&K where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army," the statement said.
"DG-ISPR also stated on camera in press conference that they had two pilots, one in custody and other admitted to hospital. Same was also corroborated by statement of Pak PM, all this proves total of two aircraft had gone down that day in same area separated by about 1.5 minutes."
Rejecting the media report, the United States defence department has said it was “not aware” of any investigation that was conducted to ascertain if Pakistan had lost an F-16 during an aerial dogfight on February 27.
The report was strongly denied by New Delhi which 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.
The media report had quoted senior but unidentified US defence sources saying that no F-16 was missing.
Distancing itself from the media report, Pentagon made it clear that they did not publicly comment on details of government-to-government agreements, especially on articles related to defence.
"It is important to note that since January 2018, the United States government has suspended security assistance to Pakistan," read a staement from the US defence department.