Pakistan calls for 'truth' from India on aerial dogfight

Pakistan calls for 'truth' from India on aerial dogfight

The Indian Air Force has already asserted that electronic signatures had shown that it shot down an F-16 plane of Pakistan Air Force on February 27, amid claims by an American magazine that no F-16 was missing in the Pakistan armoury.

"In that aerial engagement ( on 27 February), one Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison of the Indian Air Force", Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said on 27 February in a statement to reporters in New Delhi.

"The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km (about 5-6.2 miles)". One was an IAF MiG-21 Bison and the other a PAF aircraft. "Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate PAF aircraft was an F-16", ANI quoted IAF as saying today.

The F-16 aircraft are manufactured by USA weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and have formed the backbone of Pakistan's air force for decades.

His remarks came after a report in US-based Foreign Policy magazine, quoting two senior American defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation, said the U.S. personnel recently counted Pakistan's F-16s and found none of the planes missing.

After the aerial confrontation, India said one of its MiG-21 fighter jets downed a Pakistani F-16 before itself being shot down on February 27. He, however, said that Pakistani military had "more truth" to share in order to debunk the Indian claims of downing a Pakistani F-16 fighter.




Foreign Policy said Pakistan had invited US officials to physically count the F-16 planes after the incident.

The pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, became a national hero in India after his capture and subsequent "peace gesture" release, with many admirers attempting to emulate his iconic handlebar moustache and some selling merchandise emblazoned with his face. The sources argue that this could only have been a Pakistani F-16, since the PAF's other fighters - JF-17 Thunder and Mirage III/V - were elsewhere in the battlespace.

What is more, the spokesman said that India had "flagged" the incident to the U.S. and is now awaiting a response from Washington to clarify whether Pakistan was allowed to use the jets in the February incident or not.

During the aerial battle, Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman took a missile hit and ejected safely into Pakistani territory. In the same press conference, Ghafoor denied any F-16 had been shot down and stated that "No F-16s had taken part in this engagement". "The count has been completed and all the (F-16) aircraft were present and accounted for", the official added.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiralled in the wake of the 14 February suicide attack in Kashmir's Pulwama region, in which a convoy carrying Indian paramilitary personnel was targeted by a suicide bomber.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose standing has been bolstered by the raids ahead of elections beginning on April 11, has stuck to his guns, while hitting out at those questioning the success of the strike as unpatriotic. Delhi claims to also have downed one Pakistani jet, namely an F-16, which was procured to Islamabad from the U.S. to fight terrorists.

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