Irrefutable evidence F-16 was downed: IAF

The IAF said it had “irrefutable evidence” that not only did Pakistan deploy F-16s in the intended strike on Indian military installations across the Line of Control on February 27 — the attack was thwarted by Indian jets — but also that one of the US-origin jets was shot down by the MiG-21 being flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

“The IAF has more credible information and evidence that is clearly indicative of the fact that PAF lost one F-16. However, due to security and confidentiality concerns, we are restricting the information being shared in the public domain,” said assistant chief of air staff (operations) Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor.

Te IAF had marshalled evidence in the shape of “electronic signatures” captured by an Indian Phalcon AWACS aircraft and ground radar stations, which show the blip of a F-16 suddenly vanishing from the screens, as well as intercepted radio transmissions among Pak Army units and “physical sightings” of two parachutes coming down in the Sabz Kot and Tandar areas around 8-10 km apart in POK.

The government and IAF have faced criticism from some international journals and defence analysts over its statements of successfully bombing the main Jaish-e-Muhammed facility at Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in the predawn air strikes on February 26 as well as the downing of an F-16 in the aerial skirmish over the LoC a day later.

Apart from the ongoing court of inquiry to ascertain whether “friendly fire” shot down an IAF Mi-17 V5 helicopter at Budgam on February 27, killing seven persons around the same time Indian and Pakistani fighters were engaged in the dogfight in Nowshera sector some 100-km away, critics have argued the Spice-2000 bombs fired by IAF fighters on the JeM facility missed their targets, while all the F-16s in the PAF’s combat fleet were also accounted for.

But rubbishing these claims once again on Monday, AVM Kapoor said, “IAF achieved its objectives of successfully striking the terrorist camp at Balakot and thwarting the PAF attack against our military installations. The PAF was unable to achieve its military objectives.” He also displayed a few radar images at the press meet here.

“There is no doubt that two aircraft went down in the February 27 aerial engagement. While one was a MiG-21 Bison of IAF, the other was a F-16 of PAF, conclusively identified by its electronic signature and radio transcripts,” he added.

IAF has stressed that the “electronic signatures”, correlated with “tracks” and “call signs” during the dogfight, clearly showed there were at least four F-16s in the “engagement area” with Varthaman’s MiG-21 opposite the Janghar area. The track of one F-16 vanished from the radar screens 8-10 seconds later, and later its call sign too was missing while the rest of the Pakistani jets were returning to their bases.

Moreover, intercepted radio transmissions among Pak Army units, including 7 Northern Light Infantry and 658 Mujahid Battalion, show them talking about the two “parinda (aircraft)” being destroyed in the air, with two “parinde wale (pilots)” being captured on the ground.

There is no doubt two aircraft went down on February 27… one was a MiG-21 of IAF, the other an F-16 of PAF, conclusively identified by its electronic signature and radio transcripts 

No comments: