The military’s media wing on Monday said that it was meaningless to question whether Pakistan used JF-17 Thunder aircraft or US-built F-16 jets to shoot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) warplanes that violated Pakistani airspace on February 27, saying Pakistan has the right to use any of its abilities for self-defense.
Rubbishing India’s claims of shooting down a Pakistani F-16, Pakistan’s military on Monday said Delhi cannot deny that the PAF warplanes shot down two IAF aircraft in the February 27 air battle over Kashmir.
“The event of February 27 is part of history now. No Pakistani F-16 was hit by the Indian Air Force (IAF),” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement referencing the Indian claims.
“As regard PAF action for strikes across the LoC [Line of Control], it was done by JF-17 from within Pakistan airspace. Later when two Indian jets crossed the LoC, they were shot down by PAF.”
The military’s media wing added that whether F-16 or JF-17, the kind of aircraft the PAF used to shoot down two Indian jets is ‘immaterial’.
“Even if F-16 have been used, as at that point in time complete PAF was airborne including F-16s, the fact remains that Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian jets in self defense,” the ISPR statement read.
“India can assume any type of their choice, even F-16. Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self-defence,” it concluded.
Following the conflict between the two countries in February, India had claimed that the PAF had used the F-16 warplane to target Indian military installations after crossing the LoC. For “proof” a piece of an apparent missile was shown, which the Indian media said could only have been used by an F-16.
It also claimed that before an Indian plane was shot down and its pilot captured by Pakistani forces, an IAF MiG Bison had shot down a PAF F-16 aircraft. Pakistan had denied the Indian claims.
New Delhi had insisted that Pakistan’s alleged use of F-16 against India meant that Islamabad stood in violation of a sales agreement with the US.
The US State Department had refused to take a position on India’s complaint against Pakistan over using F-16s in the air battle. However, Dawn had reported last month that Washington while providing F-16 fighter jets to Islamabad not only acknowledged the aircraft’s “deterrence value” to Pakistan in a future conflict with India but also noted that it could prevent a nuclear clash between the two neighbours.
Also, New York Times journalist Maria Abi-Habib had quoted US sources as saying “if India entered Pakistani airspace for a second day, and Pakistan used the [F-16] jet defensively, the contract wasn’t violated. But, if Pakistan used an F-16 to attack India first, then deal was violated.”
The ISPR statement comes two days after India reportedly shared “critical evidence” with the US that the PAF had used F-16 fighters to strike targets in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, according to a Hindustan Times report.
Quoting unnamed government officials, the newspaper said India had shared evidence, including call signs associated with PAF F-16s and “specific details” of the AIM-120-C5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAMs) which New Delhi alleged Pakistan had used, with the US through “institutionalized intelligence channels”.