Following the Air skirmishes on 27th February 2019, PAF claims to shot down two IAF Fighter jets and captured IAF MIG-21 Fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan’s. On the other hand, IAF and Indian media claimed that wing commander Abhinandhan shot down a PAF F-16 before his fighter jet was shot down by PAF
Pakistani Authorities denied all such claims and said they didn’t lose any jets.
According to Foreign Policy, U.S. defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation told that U.S. personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing.
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.
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. But the count, conducted by U.S. authorities on the ground in Pakistan, sheds doubt on New Delhi’s version of events, suggesting that Indian authorities may have misled the international community about what happened that day.
One of the senior U.S. defense officials with direct knowledge of the count said that Pakistan invited the United States to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalized. Generally, in such agreements, the United States requires the receiving country to allow U.S. officials to inspect the equipment regularly to ensure it is accounted for and protected.
Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took U.S. personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets, the official said.
But now the count has been completed, and “all aircraft were present and accounted for,” the official said.
A second senior U.S. defense official with knowledge of the count confirmed that U.S. authorities on the ground found that no Pakistani F-16s were missing.
Evidence suggests that Pakistan’s F-16s were involved in the battle. The remnants of a U.S.-made AIM-120 air-to-air missile was found near the site; out of all the aircraft involved, only the F-16 can shoot such a weapon.
When the incident occurred, India asked the U.S. government to investigate whether Pakistan’s use of the F-16 against India violated the terms of the foreign military sale agreements.
However, the first defense official said the agreement did not involve any terms limiting the use of the F-16s.
“It would be incredibly naive for us to believe that we could sell some type of equipment to Pakistan that they would not intend to use in a fight,” the official said.
Following the air battle, which led to the capture of Vardhaman by Pakistani forces, the Indian external affairs ministry had said that
“one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force. The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side.”
Major General Asif Ghafoor, however, denied that any F-16 had been shot and added that in the Pakistan Air Force operations that day, no F-16 had been deployed.
Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, said the way the events have unfolded may affect India’s efforts to deter Pakistan in the future.
“As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians,” Narang said. “It looks increasingly like India failed to impose significant costs on Pakistan, but lost a plane and a helicopter of its own in the process.”
Read Full Report at foreignpolicy.com