IAF: 'Have irrefutable proof of shooting down Pak F-16'

IAF: 'Have irrefutable proof of shooting down Pak F-16'

Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor. ANI photo

Indian Air Force on Monday claimed on record that it was in possession of “irrefutable” evidence to prove that its vintage MiG-21 Bison shot down a Pakistan Air Force's modern F-16 combat jet in the February 27 aerial engagement.


“There is no doubt that two aircraft went down in the aerial engagement on February 27, one of which was a (MiG 21) Bison of the IAF while the other was an F-16 of PAF, conclusively identified by its electronic signature and radio transcripts,” Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations and Space) said here at a media briefing.

“The IAF has more credible information and evidence that is clearly indicative of the fact that PAF has lost one F-16 in the air action on February 27. However, due to security and confidentiality concerns, we are restricting the information being shared in the public domain,” he said.

Kapoor didn't take any questions at the end of the briefing. The IAF issued a 3-page statement on the air action that took place on February 27 – a day after the Indian forces struck at the “biggest training camp of JeM in Balakot” in Pakistan to avenge the biggest terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir at Pulwama on February 14 in which 40 CRPF soldiers were killed.

While the details released by Kapoor on Monday were also shared by IAF sources last week, what remains unclear at the moment is what prompted the government to decide that it was time for the IAF to come out and claim due credit for shooting down the F-16 with an aircraft that entered the service in the 1960s.

The IAF officer said PAF aircraft fired multiple AMRAAM missiles, which were defeated by use of counter measures and tactical maneuvers. In the aerial combat that followed, Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman in his MiG-21 Bison took on Pakistan's F-16.

Among the evidence shared by Kapoor were two radar images were taken 8 seconds apart. The first one showed the MiG-21 Bison surrounded by three PAF F-16s. The second image shows two F-16, but the track of the third F-16 suddenly disappears.

This, according to Kapoor, was because of the shooting down of the F-16. “Two aircraft had gone down that day in the same area separated by approximately one to one and half minutes.,” Kapoor said.

The Indian Army posts in the vicinity of the Line of Control in the Jhangar sector have visually sighted two separate parachutes. The first sighting was due West in general area of Sabzkot and the second was after a few minutes, due Southwest, in the general area Tandar,” he added.

“The two areas are approximately 8-10 km apart. The two parachutes were seen from places at a vantage point,” he noted.

This was corroborated by radio communications intercepts of Pakistan Army formations in those areas and initial statements released by the Pakistan establishment.