Abhinandan will fly when medically fit: IAF chief

Abhinandan's return to the cockpit depends on his medical fitness

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who spent nearly 60 hours in Pakistan custody after he landed in the neighbouring country while flying a MiG-21 Bison, will fly again only when he is fit to get into “fighter cockpit" said Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa.

“Whether he flies or not depends on his medical fitness. That’s why post-ejection, he has undergone a medical check-up. Thereafter whatever treatment is required will be given to him. Once he gets his medical fitness then only, he will get into a fighter cockpit,” the IAF chief said.

He was responding to questions on when Abhinandan would be allowed to fly fighter aircraft. The fighter pilot was released from Pakistan’s custody on Friday and is currently recuperating at the Army's Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi – he has undergone a series of tests in the past few days to check his medical fitness.

“He will go back to the same squadron if he is medically fit immediately,” the Air Chief said, adding that he was happy that the fighter pilot was back home. He also refused to answer a question on what led Pakistan to release Abhinandhan, saying he does not want to get into politics.

The IAF chief also said the units of fighter pilots are not changed just because of an incident. “We don’t change units just because of that and you must remember that ejection is something which is very difficult and takes a lot of toll on your body. If one is not perfectly fit and god forbid, he has to eject once again, he shall have to spend rest of life on a wheelchair,” he said.

“We don’t take chance with the fitness of a fighter pilot. The physical condition and curvature of your spin should be good to take that kind of an ejection. That is why the physical fitness requirement for flying fighter planes are very stringent and the rejection rates are high at the entry level,” Dhanoa said.

Operation still continues

“I will not comment on the ongoing operations because they are still continuing,” IAF chief B S Dhanoa said indicating that the operations against terrorists and their infrastructure would continue.

Dhanoa’s comments came in response to a question at a press conference on the Balakot air strikes. Though the Air chief did not elaborate on his answer, his statement dropped ample hints that the operations to strike terror camps inside PoK and Pakistan might continue.

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Abhinandan will fly when medically fit: IAF chief

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