Hours after India put out radar images as “irrefutable evidence” of the aerial dogfight between IAF MiG-21 and a Pakistani F-16 Fighter jet, Pakistan rejected the proof saying “repetitions don’t make the truth of a lie.” The IAF also cited radio intercepts, Indian Army sightings and statements by the Pakistan ISPR to underline that the PAF lost an F-16.
In a tweet, Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said, “Despite claiming possession of evidence on shooting F16, IAF still short of presenting it. Don’t overlook Pakistan’s silence for not drum beating losses on the Indian side. Fact is that PAF shot down two IAF jets, wreckage seen on ground by all.”
In a press briefing Monday, Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor told reporters: “IAF has irrefutable evidence of not only the fact that F-16 was used by PAF on February 27, 2019, but also that an IAF MiG 21 Bison shot down a PAF F-16… I have more credible evidence that is clearly indicative of the 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.”
Detailing the sequence of events following the Balakot strike, the IAF said Pakistani aircraft fired multiple AMRAAM missiles which were defeated by India. “n the aerial combat that followed, one Mig-21 Bison of the lAF, piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan, shot down one F-16 of PAF. As shown in the radar image on the slide, the F-16 crashed and fell across-the LOC in Pakistan-occupied J&K. The IAF lost one MiG-21 in the aerial engagement and the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan, ejected safely but his parachute drifted into PoJK where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army,” Kapoor added.
The IAF’s statement comes days after a report in the Foreign Policy magazine cited US government officials saying that Pakistan’s F-16 combat jets “have all been accounted for”. Following the report, Pakistan PM Imran Khan hit out at BJP over its “false claims” of downing a Pakistani F-16 jet and accused it of “whipping up war hysteria” in an attempt to be re-elected during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. “The truth always prevails and is always the best policy,” he had written.
India has been maintaining that IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman had engaged with one of the Pakistani F-16s and shot it down before his Mig-21 Bison was downed, but Pakistan has denied losing any aircraft in the combat.