Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on Monday shared irrefutable evidence with media to reject Indian claims of shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter plane on February 27 last year, by putting on display all the four missiles recovered from the wreckage of India air force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s fighter jet.
The PAF officials, in the first-ever briefing to media since the aerial combat with India last year, said the Indian military leadership lied on what actually had happened on that day.
All the four missiles recovered from the IAF jet wreckage were put on display for media. The right-wing and the left-wing of the Indian destroyed jet carried Beyond Visual Range (BVR) and Short-Range Missiles each. Some of the parts of the missiles were burnt along with the wreckage but still, all the components were intact that suggested no missile was fired from Abhinandan’s fighter jet and subsequently no damage was done to the PAF aircraft.
The Indian pilot had claimed that before being shot down, he fired at a PAF aircraft.
They said Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was awarded a gallantry award for what he never did. The briefing came a couple of days ahead of the first anniversary of the resounding victory in the ‘Operations Swift Resort’ during the standoff with India last year.
The PAF opened its doors to media for all the four missiles recovered from Wing Commander Abhinandan’s fighter jet, questioning if all the missiles were intact, how did he shoot the PAF plane?
The Indian authorities had claimed that before Abhinandan’s jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan.
Director Media Affairs and Spokesperson PAF, Air Commodore Syed Ahmer Raza, was astonished that the Indian pilot captured by Pakistani forces was awarded gallantry award by the government of India for what he never accomplished.
It is to be mentioned here that the 36-year-old Indian pilot was prized by the Indian authorities for allegedly ‘shooting down the PAF plane’.
Air Commodore Umer Shah, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans), while briefing to the media said that Abhinandan Varthman’s MiG-21 Bison jet, shot down in the dogfight with Pakistani jets during the aerial combat, was no so obsolete version of the fighter jets.
To a question, he said all the IAF planes present in that area of February 27 were identified and locked by the PAF, however, Pakistan showed restraint.
To a question, he said that visit of the US officials soon after the February 27 dogfight was an ongoing and routine process and it was not the incident-specific.
When further asked if the US officials were invited to visit Pakistan or they visited on their own to ascertain whether Pakistan had lost one of its F-16s in the dogfight, he said cooperation with USA on the F-16 program is an ongoing process.
“They [Americans] have an idea about the number of F-16s we have and the visit of the US officials was part of the ongoing process,” he added. He, however, parried a question if F-16 was used in the fight.
Pakistan has shot down two Indian jets over Kashmir on February 27, 2019, during the dogfight on the eastern border. The incident followed a major escalation of the Kashmir conflict. According to the Pakistani officials, one plane had fallen in Pakistani territory and the pilot was captured. Pakistan had also denied reports that one of its jets was shot down by the IAF. India had later, confirmed the loss of MiG-21 fighter and said a pilot was missing.
Later, PM Imran Khan had announced to release the Indian pilot, making it clear that it was to de-escalate the situation.