New Delhi: The Indian Air Force reiterated that it shot down an F-16 jet of the Pakistan Air Force on February 27, during the aerial combat that followed the Balakot strikes. At a media briefing on Monday, it showed radar images of the engagement to assert “irrefutable evidence” of downing the enemy jet.
Air Vice Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor showed several slides of graphic captures from airborne warning and control systems (AWACS).
The IAF has more credible information and evidence that is clearly indicative of the fact that PAF has lost one F-16 in the air action on February 27, he said.
The aerial dogfight came a day after India conducted a ‘pre-emptive non-military action’ on alleged terror training camps of the Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, Pakistan. An Indian aircraft, MiG-21 Bison was shot down in the dogfight.
“The IAF has irrefutable evidence of not only the fact that F-16 was used by Pakistan Air Force on February 27, but also that an IAF MiG 21 Bison shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16,” Kapoor said in a statement.
He did not take any questions on the issue.
On Friday, the IAF had asserted that it shot down an F-16 fighter jet of Pakistan during the dogfight, following a report in a leading US news magazine which contradicted India’s contention.
“There is no doubt that two aircraft went down in the aerial engagement on February 27, one of which was a Bison of IAF while the other was an F-16 of PAF conclusively identified by its electronic signature and radio transcripts,” the IAF official said.
He said the IAF has more credible information and evidence that is clearly indicative of the fact that the PAF has lost one F-16 in the air action on February 27. “However, due to security and confidentiality concerns, we are restricting the information being shared in public domain.”
The IAF also said official statements made by the director general of ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor, corroborate its stand. The IAF statement said the DG ISPR had categorically stated that Pakistan had identified two pilots, one in custody and the other admitted to hospital. This was reiterated by the Pakistani PM, the IAF said.
Last week, leading American magazine Foreign Policy reported that a US count of the F-16s with Pakistan has found that none of them are missing, contradicting India’s claim that one of its fighter jets shot down a Pakistani F-16 during the aerial dogfight on February 27.
In the report, the magazine said two senior US defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation told it that American personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none of the planes missing.
The Government has maintained that Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman engaged with one of the Pakistani F-16s and shot it down before his Mig-21 Bison was downed.
Varthaman was captured by Pakistan and was released after nearly 60 hours in Pakistani custody.
The IAF on February 28 displayed pieces of an AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as evidence to “conclusively” prove that Pakistan deployed the US-manufactured jets during an aerial raid on Indian military installations in Kashmir.
Pakistan denied that it lost any F-16 jets during the aerial combat.