India on Friday refuted a report in a US publication which contested its claim that a Pakistani F-16 was shot down in the Nowshera sector of Jammu & Kashmir on February 27, saying it was the MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman that brought down the jet.
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.
“The Indian Army confirmed sighting ejections at two different places, separated by at least 8-10 km, on February 27. One was a MiG-21 Bison (Varthaman was captured in Tandar area and released after two days) and the other a PAF aircraft (in Sabz Kot area). Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate the PAF aircraft was an F-16,” assistant chief of air staff (operations), Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, said.
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 findings directly contradict the account of Indian Air Force officials, who said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own plane was downed by a Pakistani missile,” said a report recently published by a US magazine named Foreign Policy, adding that “it is possible that in the heat of combat, Varthaman, flying a vintage MiG-21 Bison, got a lock on the Pakistani F-16, fired, and genuinely believed he scored a hit.”