IAF Recommends Wing Commander Abhinandan for Vir Chakra Award
The Indian Air Force is recommending Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for the coveted wartime gallantry medal Vir Chakra for shooting down an F-16 in aerial conflict with Pakistan, reported PTI.
Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry award in the military after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.
While Wing Commander Abhinandan has been recommended for the Vir Chakra, the 12 Mirage 2000 pilots who bombed targets in Pakistan are being recommended for the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry for their acts of bravery, government sources said, according to ANI.
IAF Transfers Abhinandan to Western Sector
Meanwhile, amid concerns over Wing Commander Abhinandan's security, the IAF has shifted the officer out of Srinagar and posted him to a front line air base in the western sector, official sources said on Saturday, 20 April.
The transfer orders came after security agencies indicated that the officer could be a target of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), reported Hindustan Times.
However, according news agency PTI’s sources, the transfer orders to another base were “routine.”
Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistan on 27 February during an aerial combat with Indian Air Force, had returned to his squadron in Srinagar last month, although he was on a four-week sick leave.
The IAF pilot went on leave in mid-March after security agencies completed a nearly two-week debriefing following his return from Pakistan.
Sources said a medical board will review his fitness to help the IAF top brass decide whether he can return to fighter cockpit as desired.
Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army on 27 February after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat.
Before his jet was hit, IAF said he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Varthaman was released on 1 March by Pakistan.
(With inputs from PTI, Hindustan Times and ANI.)