NEW DELHI: Refuting claims of US magazine Foreign Policy, the Indian Air Force on Friday reiterated that an Indian MiG-21 indeed shot down an F-16 fighter jet of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in the Nowshera Sector in the last week of February.
“Electronic signatures gathered by us indicated that the PAF aircraft was an F-16,” said Air Vice Marshal and Assistant Chief of Air Staff RGK Kapoor in a statement.
“Indian forces have confirmed sighting ejections at two different places on that day. The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km and 6-7 km inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. One was an IAF MiG-21 Bison and the other a PAF aircraft.”
The publication had quoted anonymous sources to claim that US personnel inspected PAF’s F-16 fleet and found none of them was missing.
The article quoted two senior US defence officials with “direct knowledge of the situation”. India had raised its concern with Washington on the use of PAF F-16s in an “offensive action”.
According to the IAF, after India’s air strike on the terrorist camp at Balakot on February 26, PAF attempted to strike back on February 27.
A large force of PAF F-16s, JF 17s and Mirage III and Mirage V were picked up by IAF radars. They were intercepted by IAF SU 30MKI, Mirage- 2000 and MiG-21 Bison fighter jets guided by ground radars and AWACS.
Attempts by PAF to attack Indian targets were successfully thwarted. During the aerial engagement that followed, one MiG 21 Bison of the IAF shot down one F-16 in the Nowshera sector.
Highly placed IAF sources said they have clinching electronic evidence that there were 11 PAF 16s and one of them was shot down.
“AWACS picked up the F-16 flying 8-10 km from our MiG-21 flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and it went off the radar picture in 8 to 10 seconds, which means once Abhinandan saw the PAF fighter, he locked it and shot it down with R-73 air-to-air missile before he went down.”