Indian Air Force reasserts that it shot down a Pakistani F16 jet

06 April, 2019, 08:50 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Indian PM Narendra Modi

India's statement that its air force shot down one of Pakistan's US -built F-16 aircraft during a military flareup in late February appears untrue, according to a report by Washington, D.C. -based Foreign Policy magazine, which cited two USA defense officials it didn't identify.

Those restrictions do not apply to Pakistan's entire fleet of F-16s, and Islamabad says all of its aircraft - whether purchased outright or through U.S. aid - can be used in legitimate cases of self-defence, such as the engagement on February 27.

"The Indian Force have confirmed sighting ejections at two different places on that day". Foreign Policy cites senior American defence officials as stating that U.S. personnel had "recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing".

The IAF claimed that Varthaman had shot down an F-16 jet of Pakistan before ejecting from his crashing MiG-21 Bison jet. They said the Pakistani aircraft was an F-16 and enemy radio transmissions which were monitored showed that it did not return to its base.

Pakistan military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said it was time India came clean on "false claims", including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot Wing Commander Varthaman, who was handed over to India on March 1 in an effort to de-escalate the crisis. Earlier this week, news agency PTI even reported that Pakistan has indicated it may have used F-16 against India after all.

IAF's assertion comes in the wake of US-based Foreign Policy magazine's report that cited U.S. government officials saying that Pakistan's F-16 combat jets "have all been accounted for".

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In an informal briefing later, it said images taken by the AEW&C craft show presence of eleven F16s during Pakistan's intrusion, and intercepts available with Indian agencies show two craft went down.

The count has been completed, and "all aircraft were present and accounted for", an unnamed official is quoted as saying.

Since the ban by Pakistan on the use of its airspace, several flights within Asia, between Asia and West Asia or Europe or the US were forced to take a longer route, entailing an increase in flight duration and sometimes a halt for refuelling.

That evening, at 6:19 pm, Ghafoor tweeted, presumably after being informed that the second pilot was Pakistani: "There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army's custody".

After the Pulwama suicide bombing by a young Muslim man born and bred in India-held Kashmir killed at least 40 paramilitary personnel on Feb 14 last and a claim of responsibility was purportedly made by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, India launched punitive air strikes against a JeM target, a madressah, in Pakistan's KP province on Feb 26. However, India was unable to present any physical evidence to back up its claim of having downed an F-16.

The recent India-Pakistan face-off is expected to boost Modi's chances of re-election in the staggered general elections beginning on April 11.



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