India on Thursday provided hard evidence of Pakistan using its F-16 fighters in an offensive action across the LoC in violation of the rules governing the F-16 sale by the USA.
Air Vice Marshal R G Kapoor punctured holes in Pakistan's claims of not using any F-16 in the operation. “There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission and Pakistan is trying to hide this fact. Also, parts of AMRAAM Air-to-Air missiles, which is carried only on the F-16 in the PAF were recovered East of Rajauri within the Indian territory. Therefore, the fact remains that one F-16 of PAF was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison aircraft.” he said.
As recent as in 2016, India objected to USA's sale of F-16 combat aircraft to Pakistan observing that the deal would adversely impact the regional security balance in South Asia.
Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations and Space), said a “large package” of PAF aircraft headed towards Indian territory near Jhangar and breached the Indian airspace, west of Rajauri in Sunderbani in J&K.
Kapoor did not release any figure, but sources told DH that more than 20 PAF aircraft flew towards India on Thursday around 10 am. They were countered by IAF's MiG-21 Bison, Su-30 MKI and Mirage-2000.
“We have electronic signatures to identify the aircraft. There were F-16, JF-17 and Mirages. The PAF bombs have fallen in Indian Army formation compounds. However, they were unable to cause any significant damage to our military installations,” he said.
India also accused Pakistan of attacking its military installations in Jammu and Kashmir in an unprovoked act of aggression, countering the Islamic country's claim of deliberately not targeting the Indian military structure in the air raid undertaken a day before.
Within minutes of the Cabinet Committee on Security taking stock of the security scenario in the backdrop of the Indo-Pak flare up, senior officials from the three services in a media briefing said Army, Air Force and Navy were fully prepared and in a heightened state of readiness to respond to any provocation by Pakistan.
“Pakistan has targeted our military installations. They have escalated matters. If they provoke us any further, we are prepared for exigencies," said Maj Gen Surendra Singh Mahal, Assistant Director-General (Military Operation).
Mahal said Pakistan Air Force fighter jets on Thursday attempted to strike at an Army Brigade headquarters, a battalion headquarters and defence and logistics installations in Jammu and Kashmir, but the attempts were foiled by prompt action taken by Indian Air Force, which scrambled its jets to take on the enemy.
The military officers not only exposed several Pakistani lies on the air raid but also provided irrefutable evidence of Pakistan using its F-16 combat jets in the attack, a day after IAF launched a “non-military” and “pre-emptive” air raid on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Pakistan.
The Indian action comes 12 days after 40 CRPF soldiers were killed in Pulwama in a terror attack, orchestrated by the JeM.