IAF Chief B S Dhanoa flies MiG-21 sortie with Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthamanhttps://indianexpress.com/photos/india-news/air-force-chief-dhanoa-flies-sortie-with-wing-commander-abhinandan-varthaman-5959134/

IAF Chief B S Dhanoa flies MiG-21 sortie with Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman

Days before his retirement from the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa Monday undertook his last fighter sortie on a MiG-21 aircraft with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at the Pathankot airbase in Punjab.

Abhinandan Varthaman, Birender Singh Dhanoa, Indian Air Force, MiG 21 Bison, Next IAF chief, F-16 vs MiG 21, Indian Express

Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa flew a sortie with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman at Air Force Station in Pathankot Monday. The duo flew a Soviet made Mikoyan Gurevich-21 trainer aircraft. This is the last sortie flown by the Air Force Chief in a fighter aircraft before his retirement. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

Abhinandan Varthaman, Birender Singh Dhanoa, Indian Air Force, MiG 21 Bison, Next IAF chief, F-16 vs MiG 21, Indian Express

After completing the sortie, Air Chief Marshal Dhanao said it was a pleasure to fly with Wing Commander Varthaman who is back as a MiG-21 instructor. “It was a pleasure for me to fly with Abhinandan because he has got his flying category back, that is what all pilots look forward to. I also ejected in 1988, it took me 9 months to get my category back. He has been back in less than 6 months,” he said. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

Abhinandan Varthaman, Birender Singh Dhanoa, Indian Air Force, MiG 21 Bison, Next IAF chief, F-16 vs MiG 21, Indian Express

On a lighter note, Air Chief Marshal Dhanao said he and Abhinandan had two things in common — ejecting mid-air from their aircraft and fighting Pakistan. “Both of us have two things in common — first, both of us ejected (laughs) and second, both of us have fought Pakistanis. I fought in Kargil, he fought after Balakot. Third, I’ve flown with his father. It’s an honour for me to do my last sortie in IAF, in a fighter aircraft, with his son,” he said. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

Abhinandan Varthaman, Birender Singh Dhanoa, Indian Air Force, MiG 21 Bison, Next IAF chief, F-16 vs MiG 21, Indian Express

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa was a MiG-21 pilot during the 1999 Kargil War during which he commanded an IAF squadron. Abhinandan, also a MiG-21 pilot, gained fame when he shot down a Pakistani F-16 aircraft in February after the Balakot airstrike. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

Abhinandan Varthaman, Birender Singh Dhanoa, Indian Air Force, MiG 21 Bison, Next IAF chief, F-16 vs MiG 21, Indian Express

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was held captive by Pakistan after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets. On August 15, he was conferred the Vir Chakra, India’s third-highest wartime gallantry medal. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)

Abhinandan Varthaman, Birender Singh Dhanoa, Indian Air Force, MiG 21 Bison, Next IAF chief, F-16 vs MiG 21, Indian Express

The MiG-21 aircraft being flown by Air Force chief Dhanoa and Wing Commander Abhinandan taking off from Pathankot Air Station. (Photo Courtesy: IAF)