New Delhi: The Indian Air Force on Friday asserted that electronic signatures had shown that it shot down an F-16 plane of Pakistan Air Force on February 27, amid claims by an American magazine that no F-16 was missing in the Pakistan armoury.
According to an IAF statement, the fighter jet was shot down opposite the Nowshera sector in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
“During the aerial engagement that followed after Pakistani attack, one MiG-21 Bison of the Air Force shot down one F-16 in the Nowshera sector,” the statement read.
IAF sources said radio communication of Pakistan Air Force, intercepted by it, confirmed that one of the F-16s that attacked India on February 27 did not return to its base.
In one of the intercepts of the Pakistan’s 7 Northern Light Infantry unit, the Pakistani soldiers could be heard saying that, “ye enemy ka jo tabah hua hai parinda, woh dono parinde wale pakad liye hain (the enemy plane which has been destroyed, we have been able to catch both the pilots from it).”
The first intercept was at 1205 pm on February 27. Around 40 minutes later, the soldiers informed their higher-ups, saying that one of the pilots they had taken was Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman while the other one was also caught by the troops of 658 Mujahid Battalion.
IAF said the Pakistani military communication and the initial statements also suggest that they had lost one aircraft which they claimed to be that of IAF.
“The 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 kilometers. One was an IAF MiG-21 and the other was a PAF aircraft. Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate that the Pakistani aircraft was an F-16,” the IAF statement said.
IAF sources also confirmed that the Pakistanis had carried out a three-pronged attack on the Indian military targets when the Indian Air Force responded from Srinagar and other adjoining air bases.
“The aircraft opposite Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s area of engagement with Pakistanis were all F-16s and the package in the north was the JF-17s. While the Mirages of Pakistanis were in the rear trying to hit ground targets,” the sources said.
In response to a query on US media reports that questioned IAF version of Pakistan F-16 shot down by IAF MIG 21 Bison, IAF sources said that Wg Cdr Varthaman shot down Pakistan Air Force F-16 aircraft 7-8 km inside Pakistan Occupied Area in Sabzkot area.
An American media report today suggested, while attributing American military sources, that the Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft fleet was intact as America had counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing.
This is in contradiction to India’s claim that it had shot down one Pakistani F-16 using the R-73 missile fired by Wg Cdr Varthaman.