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Was F-16 Shot Down by MiG 21? IAF Gives Proof, Pak Calls It ‘Lie’

Last week, a report published by Foreign Policy claimed that none of Pakistan’s F-16s were missing.

Updated
India
3 min read

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday, 8 April, revealed radar data which it says is the conclusive evidence that Pakistan used F-16s in the aerial skirmish on 27 February, and that one was shot down by the MiG-21 Bison flown by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

Speaking with the media, Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor also said “analysis of electronic emissions have shown that the aircraft picked up by ELINT (electronic intelligence) intercepts from AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) and radio transcripts indicated F-16s in the area directly in front of Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman’s aircraft.”

AVM Kapoor added that the IAF had more “credible information and evidence” but was restricting the information from being shared in the public domain “due to security and confidentiality concerns”.

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Radar Data, Electronic Signature & Radio Transcripts

The IAF, at the briefing, said that it has “irrefutable evidence” of F-16 used by PAF on 27 February and also that it was shot down by an IAF MiG 21 Bison. In a document, the IAF laid out how events played out in the dogfight and their proof of the F-16.

  • All PAF aircraft involved in the attempt by Pakistan to target military installations in India were identified by electronic signature.
  • PAF aircraft had fired AMRAAM missiles, which were defeated by the IAF using tactical manoeuvre and counter measures.
  • Radar images show that in the aerial combat, a PAF F-16 was shot down by a MiG 21 Bison piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
  • The F-16 crashed and fell across the LoC in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
  • Varthaman's MiG-21 also went down but he ejected safely. His parachute drifted into Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, after which he was taken into custody.
  • Indian Army posts near the LoC sighted two separate parachutes. The first sighting was was due West in the general area of Subzkot and the second one, after a few minutes, Southwest in Tandar area.
  • This is corroborated by radio communication of Pakistan intercepted by India.
  • DG ISPR Asif Ghafoor claimed that one pilot was in custody and the other was admitted to hospital and was being given treatment. Pakistan PM Imran Khan's statement also supported this, proving that two aircraft had gone down that day within short intervals of each other.
  • The F-16 has been identified conclusively by the electronic signature and radio transcripts.
  • Radar images that establish use of F-16s by PAF.
  • Indian Army sightings of the parachutes of the parachutes. The Pakistani pilot’s one is red. The IAF one is blue.
  •  Radar track of the air battle. The red circle shows the track of F-16. Blue circle is IAF’s MiG-21 Bison.
  • The track of F-16 being targeted disappears. 2 other F-16s continue to remain on the image.

India Fails to Provide Any Evidence of Downing F-16, Says Pak Army

The Pakistan Army on Monday, 8 April, said India has failed to provide any evidence of downing a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during the 27 February aerial combat over Nowshera in Jammu and Kashmir, despite claiming that it has proof of the incident.

The statement came hours after the Indian Air Force on Monday released radar images as part of its "irrefutable evidence" to assert that it shot down an F-16 fighter jet of Pakistan during the airstrike.

In a tweet, Pakistani military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said, "Repetitions don't make truth of a lie.”

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Report Claims PAF F-16’s Intact, Pentagon Says ‘Not Aware’ of Audit

Last week, a report published by Foreign Policy (FP) quoted two US defence officials and claimed that none of Pakistan's F-16s were missing. According to the report, an audit, conducted on invitation from Pakistan, had found all of the country’s F-16s intact.

However, since then, the US Department of Defence has said that it wasn't aware of any probe that was carried out to find out if there was any F-16 missing, according to a Hindustan Times report.

Pentagon officials said that they “weren’t aware of any investigation like that,” distancing themselves from the FP report.

Indian Air Force sources on Friday, 5 April, had responded to the FP report, insisting that they had proof of the involvement of a PAF F-16 in the skirmish.

IAF officers briefed journalists on why they insist Wing Commander Abhinandan shot down an F-16 aircraft in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. The IAF said, "during the aerial engagement, one MiG-21 Bison of the IAF shot down an F-16 in Nowshera sector."

IAF sources also said that it has conclusive "circumstantial evidence,” including wireless intercepts, signals and graphic captures from Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and electronic signatures, to conclude that the F-16 jet was shot down during aerial combat.

(With inputs from Hindustan Times.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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