New Delhi: The Indian Air Force on Friday listed out a number of evidence which prove that the jet shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in February was an F-16 jet of the Pakistan Air Force.
Reacting to questions raised by a certain section of the US media, the IAF said that Wing Commander had shot down a PAF F-16 jet seven to eight kilometres inside Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. News agency ANI, quoting IAF sources, reported that radio communication of Pakistan Air Force intercepted confirms that one of the F-16s that attacked India on February 27 did not return to its base. The IAF also reportedly said that Indian forces had confirmed the sighting of ejections at two different places on the same day – one of an IAF MiG 21 Bison and the other of a PAF jet. It is reported further that electronic signatures gathered indicate that the PAF jet was a F-16.
Even as Pakistan remains in denial mode and claims that none of its F-16 jets were mobilised against India, hard evidence points to the opposite. The armed forces, on February 28, had also presented parts of an AMRAAM air-to-air missile which can only be fitted on to a F-16 jet among all jets with PAF. Earlier this week, news agency PTI even reported that Pakistan has indicated it may have used F-16 against India after all. “As regard Pakistan Air Force (PAF) action for strikes across Line of Control, it was done by JF-17 from within Pakistan airspace,” said Pakistan’s military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor. “Whether it was F-16 or JF-17 which shot down 2 Indian aircraft is immaterial.”
An American news publication called Foreign Policy had, however, raised questions against IAF’s claims, only for IAF to reply with proof.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has flipped and flopped over the issue with its Prime Minister – Imran Khan – initially saying two Indian pilots had been captured on February 28. He would later retract to say only one Indian pilot was in his country’s custody, never revealing much on the status of the other pilot.