MiG 21 pilot took out Pak’s F16 before capture, says IAF at joint briefing
The Indian Air Force lost one MiG 21 aircraft. Though the pilot ejected safely his parachute drifted into PoJ&K, where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army,” he said at a press conference in New Delhi.
A senior Indian Air Force officer on Thursday confirmed that it was the MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman that shot down the F-16 Pakistan Air Force jet in the aerial engagement with Pakistan on Wednesday morning.
“In the aerial combat that ensued one F-16 of the Pakistan Air Force was shot down by Indian Air Force MiG 21 Bison aircraft. The F-16 crashed and fell across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Air Force lost one MiG 21 aircraft. Though the pilot ejected safely, his parachute drifted into PoJ&K, where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army,” Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor said at a press conference in New Delhi.
The aerial dogfight referred to by the Air Vice Marshal took place after PAF violated Indian airspace and attempted to target military installations following strike by IAF at a terror camp at Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The terror camp was said to be the biggest run by Jaish-e-Mohammed.
“On 27th of February, at around 1000 hours, Indian radars detected a large package of Pakistan Air Force aircrafts heading towards Indian territories, towards general area of Jhangar. They breached the Indian airspace west of Rajouri in the Sundarbani area,” said Air Vice Marshal Kapoor providing details of the aerial dogfight.
“The invading aircraft were engaged at various levels. The IAF aircraft including MiG-21 Bison were tasked to intercept the intruding PAF aircraft. The Pakistan Air Force aircraft attempting to target military installations were intercepted by the Indian Air Force aircraft, which foiled their attempt,” he said.
He also said that although Pakistan Air Force bombs fell in the compound of India’s military installation, it failed to cause any damage.
Pakistan has announced Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman will be released tomorrow as a ‘gesture of peace’.
The IAF welcomed the release of its pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman . “We are happy that our pilot who had fallen across the Line of Control and was in custody of Pakistan is being released. We are extremely happy to have him back. We only see it as a gesture which is in consonance with all Geneva conventions,” Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said.
Pakistan has not admitted to either having crossed the LoC on Wednesday or using F-16 jets in the aerial dogfight. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his statements, has maintained that PAF jets remained on the Pakistani side of the LoC. He did not refer to the use of F-16 jets.
However, Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said, “There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission through their electronic signatures. Parts of AMRAAM, air to air missile which is carried only on the Pakistani F-16s was recovered east of Rajouri within the Indian territory.”
On the question of assessment of the damage done by the IAF strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Pakistan, Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said, “We have evidence to show that whatever we wanted to do and targets we wanted to destroy, we have done that. Decision to show the evidence is on senior leadership.”
The IAF targeted the Jaish terror camp in a pre-dawn operation on Tuesday. The operation, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said, was carried out on the basis of “credible” intelligence inputs that Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning to carry out more terror attacks in India.
Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack, in which a CRPf convoy was targeted by a suicide bomber on February 14 killing 40 soldiers.
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