MiG-21: India gets fresh evidence to nail Islamabad

Way back in December 1971, Indian Air Force's MiG-21 fighter jets launched a devastating attack on the Governor's House in Dhaka, forcing the Pakistan Army with its 93,000 troops to surrender in India's biggest war victory.

Half a century down the line and at the fag end of their service lives, the Russian-origin fighter jets continue to be a formidable foe for Pakistan as a dogfight involving a MiG-21 Bison and Pakistan Air Force's F-16 combat jet left New Delhi with an irrefutable piece of evidence to corner Islamabad in the global arena.

India is now in possession of the fragments of the AIM-120 C-5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (with markings FA-8675-05-C-0070) manufactured by US firm Raytheon for USA's Foreign Military Sales programme to supply arms to Pakistan.

“AMRAAM is a beyond visual range missile used by the F-16,” Air Vice Marshal Ravi Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (operations and space) said here.

The missile fragments and electronic chipboard pieces that Indian Army recovered east of Rajauri in Jammu and Kashmir are hard evidence of the American combat plane being used against India by Pakistan in an offensive role, violating the US rules governing the sale of such weapon.

In addition, IAF is also in possession of electronic signature of the F-16 deployed by Pakistan in its aerial strike targeting military installations in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan received these planes first from the Jimmy Carter administration as the USA was looking for allies to take on then USSR, which invaded Afghanistan. The USA agreed to sell 70 of these aircraft and supplied 40 of them when the Congress cut off the military sales in the 1990s because of Pakistan's secret nuclear programme.

The second lot of 36 aircraft was approved by the George Bush administration in 2006 as the USA was looking for friends in the sub-continent for its “Global War on Terrorism” campaign in the wake of 9/11. The $ 5.1 billion arms package include F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft and 500 AIM-120C5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles.

The FMS programme came with strict conditions that such weapons were to be used only for the counter-terrorism operations.

The IAF's MiG-21 provides the first evidence that Islamabad violates these conditions.

Interestingly, the aerial battle between the MiG-21 bison and F-16 that resulted in the MiG-21 shooting down the more capable F-16 is probably the world's only case of the Russian aircraft defeating the American war jet.

“To the best of my knowledge, there is no precedence even during the cold war,” said Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (Rtd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies, Delhi.

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MiG-21: India gets fresh evidence to nail Islamabad

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