The Indian Air Force (IAF) Friday refuted claims by a US media report made earlier today that stated Pakistan did not lose any F-16 jet in the aerial combat on February 27. The IAF reiterated that a MiG-21 Bison had shot down the Pakistani F-16 jet in the Nowshera sector.
“During the aerial engagement, one MiG 21 Bison of the IAF shot down an F-16 in Nowshera sector,” the IAF said in a statement.
IAF’s assertion comes in the wake of US-based Foreign Policy magazine’s report that cited US government officials saying that Pakistan’s F-16 combat jets “have all been accounted for”. The Foreign Policy Magazine reported that two senior US defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation informed it that American personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none of the planes missing.
As the report contradicted IAF claims, Pakistan military urged its Indian counterpart to “speak the truth” about the “actual losses” in the dogfight that took place after Pakistan Air Force retaliated to India’s airstrikes on ‘non-military targets’ in Balakot.
The aerial combat ensued after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft violated Indian airspace in J&K, a day after IAF struck a terror camp inside Pakistani territory. The Pakistani jets attempted air strikes but caused little damage on the ground as the bombs fell in uninhabited areas near military installations.
The intrusion over Nowshera and Krishna Ghati sectors of Rajouri and Poonch districts was thwarted by the IAF which lost a MiG-21 Bison — its pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, ejected across the Line of Control and was in Pakistani custody for two days before being repatriated in compliance to the Geneva Conventions.
Pakistan Air Force’s attempted a “reposte” on February 27 in an air raid that included F-16s, JF 17s and Mirage III/V and the aircraft were picked up by the IAF radars, the IAF stated.
“They were intercepted by IAF’s Su30-MKI, Mirage 2000 and Mig 21 Bison fighters guided by ground radars and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System). All attempts of the PAF to attack any targets were thwarted by the IAF,” the IAF added.
The Indian Air Force on February 28 displayed pieces of an AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as evidence to “conclusively” establish that Pakistan deployed US-made F-16 fighter jets during the air raid.