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India gives Pak F-16 intel to US

South Block officials said on condition of anonymity that this evidence – call signs associated with PAF F-16s, and specific details of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air To Air Missile (AMRAAM) used by the intruding fighting falcons – were shared with the US through institutionalised intelligence channels.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2019 09:08 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan,F-16 evidence,Jaish-e-Mohammed
The PAF lost one F-16 aircraft that day in a dogfight with a Russian MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. (REUTERS)

India has shared critical evidence with the US that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) indeed used F-16 fighters in its attempted strike on February 27 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Nowshera sector as a counter to the Indian Air Force (IAF) strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakot, Pakistan, the previous day.

South Block officials said on condition of anonymity that this evidence – call signs associated with PAF F-16s, and specific details of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air To Air Missile (AMRAAM) used by the intruding fighting falcons – were shared with the US through institutionalised intelligence channels.

The PAF lost one F-16 aircraft that day in a dogfight with a Russian MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The details in the recovered expended missile correspond to the consignment lot sold by the US to Pakistan, the officials added.

India has not shared radar signatures of the F-16s used in the Nowshera fight as this information would also compromise the security of the IAF.

New Delhi also knows the name of the pilot of the downed F-16 shot down by Varthaman, the officials said. Photographs of the recovered engine cowling of the F-16 downed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that were examined by IAF experts shows that it has nothing to do with Varthaman’s MiG-21-Bison, the officials added. While the photograph shows the recovered part without rivets, the MiG-21 engine cowling has rivets at multiple places, they said.

While Major General Asif Ghafoor, chief spokesperson of the Pakistan Armed Forces, denied the use of F-16s in the Nowshera fight on February 27, he changed his statement on March 24 in an interview to Sputnik in Islamabad. He was quoted as saying: “As regards to how to use F-16, in what context (they) were used or not — because at that point of time our entire Air Force was airborne — it remains between Pakistan and the US to see how the MoUs (memorandums of understanding) regarding the use of F-16 have been adhered to or otherwise.”

The statement was made in the context that the US sold F-16 fighters to Pakistan on condition that they will not be used in aggression against any other country, but only in the war against terror.

According to the South Block officials, while the Pentagon knows that F-16s were used by Pakistan and not the over-rated Chinese JF-17s, the downing of a fighting falcon by a lowly Fishbed, the NATO name of the MiG-21, is a bitter pill to for it to swallow both militarily and commercially.

First Published: Mar 30, 2019 06:28 IST