After weeks of denial, Pakistan for the first time on Monday acknowledged that F-16 jets were “airborne” during an attempted air strike on military installations in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor, however, said it was meaningless to question whether JF-17 Thunder aircraft or US-built F-16 jets were used to shoot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft that violated Pakistani airspace on February 27.
“Whether it was F-16 or JF-17 which shot down two Indian aircraft is immaterial. When the Indian planes crossed the LoC, all of PAF’s aircraft, including F-16s were airborne,” the military’s media wing said in a statement.
So far, Pakistan had rejected India’s claim that it used US-made F-16 fighters jets against India in retaliation to its pre-emptive strikes on terror camps in Balakot.
A day after the incident, the IAF displayed parts of an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) fired by an F-16, which fell in Indian territory.
AMRAAMs can only be fired from F-16 aircraft and India had alleged that Pakistan violated the end-user agreement with the United States. The US does not allow F-16s to be used in an offensive role.
The US State Department has already sought more information from Pakistan on the potential use of F-16 jets against India in violation of the end-user agreement.
Ghafoor also rejected New Delhi’s claims that an F-16 was destroyed by Indian Air Force during the standoff. “The event of February 27 is part of history now. No Pakistani F-16 was hit by Indian Airforce,” he said, adding that Islamabad retained the right to use “anything and everything” in its self-defence.