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IAF denies US report on F-16, says shot it down during dogfight on February 27

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday denied the United States’ report on F-16 and asserted that it shot it down during the aerial dogfight on February 27. 

A Pakistani F-16 fighter jet. (File photo: Getty Images)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • One MiG 21 Bison of the IAF shot down an F-16, IAF said
  • Indian Forces have confirmed sighting ejections at two different places: IAF
  • Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate PAF aircraft was an F-16: IAF

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday denied the American magazine’s report on F-16 and asserted that it shot down Pakistan’s fighter aircraft during the dogfight on February 27, a day after Balakot airstrikes.

“During the aerial engagement, one MiG 21 Bison of the IAF shot down an F-16 in Nowshera sector,” the IAF said in a statement. The IAF also said that Pakistan intercepts available with the Indian agencies show that on February 27, two aircraft went down with two pilots.

“One was Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The identity of the second pilot is not known as Pakistan has not revealed it,” IAF said.

IAF, in a statement, said, “The Indian Forces have confirmed sighting ejections at two different places on February 27. The 2 sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km. One was an IAF MIG 21 Bison and other a PAF aircraft. Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate PAF aircraft was an F-16.”

“Airborne early warning and control system AWCS images show images of 11 F- 16s. It also shows Abhinandan was involved in a dogfight with an F-16. The electronic signatures available to the IAF clearly indicate it was F-16 that went down,” the IAF said.

The assertion came after the Foreign Policy magazine reported that the US count of the F-16s with Pakistan has found that none of them is missing, contradicting India’s claim that one of its fighter jets shot down a Pakistani F-16 during an aerial battle on February 27.

The Magazine said, “One of the senior US defense officials…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 finalised.”

Its report also said it was possible that, “in the heat of combat”, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman “got a lock on the Pakistani F-16, fired, and genuinely believed he scored a hit”.

(With inputs from Abhishek Bhalla)

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