Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s 51 Squadron will be awarded unit citation by IAF Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria for thwarting the aerial attack by Pakistan and shooting down their F-16 in February this year, ANI reported.
The award will be received by commanding officer Group Captain Satish Pawar on October 8.
The number 9 squadron, whose Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft had carried out the Balakot airstrikes a day before, will also be awarded the citation.
Besides this, Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal’s 601 Signal unit will be awarded the unit citation for their role in the airstrikes on both the days.
Tensions between Pakistan and India had escalated after the IAF bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)’s biggest training camp near Balakot inside Pakistan on February 26. The strike was in response to the Pulwama terror attack by JeM in Jammu and Kashmir in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed after an explosive-laden SUV rammed into their bus and exploded.
However, Abhinandan was captured on the morning of February 27 after his MiG21 Bison aircraft was shot down by Pakistan during a counter-attack. His parachute landed across the Line of Control (LoC) and he was in Islamabad’s custody for nearly 60 hours.
The Wing Commander returned on March 1 after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced he would be released as a “gesture of peace”.