NEW DELHI: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who had shot down the Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 on 27 February did a sortie with the Air Chief on Monday. Abhinanadan, who had to eject in Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir after he was hit by enemy, flew the Mig 21 type 69 with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa as the lead pilot at Pathankot Air Base, Punjab.
“CAS flew a sortie with Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman at AF Stn Pathankot today in a MiG-21 trainer. This was the last sortie flown by ACM Dhanoa in a fighter aircraft before his retirement. They took off around 1130h for a 30 min sortie.” informed the Air Force.
Air Chief was commanding the MiG’s 17 Squadron when he took part during the Kargil war. MiG 21s are the oldest Indian Fighter aircraft which are still operationally fit for combat.
Talking about the sortie the air chief told media, “It is a particular joy for me to come and fly with 26 Squadron, which is last quadroon of the legacy of MIG 21 aircraft.” It is a pleasure for me to fly with Abhinandan because he has got his flying category back added the chief.
Air Chief Dhanoa had also ejected in 1988 and had got his flying category in 9 months. Wg Cdr Abhinandan has been back in less than 6 months.
Abhinandan was medically down and had been recently approved to begin his sorties. Abhinandan had hurt his back after he had to eject from his aircraft on February 27 while taking on the PAF Fighters which tried to hit Indian military installations. He had landed in the Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir where he was manhandled by the public. One day prior, Indian Air Force had launched attack in Balakot on Jaish e Mohammad training facility in retaliation to the suicide bombing carried out in Pulwama in which 40 CRPF troops were killed.
Abhnanadan had gained praises of the country for his fortitude in enemy captivity. He was handed back to India on March 1. President of India has announced gallantry award Vir Chakra for Wg Cdr Varthaman.