Indian Pilot Varthaman Downed Over Kashmir Could Return to Flying Soon - Reports

© AFP 2022 / DIBYANGSHU SARKARAn Indian Air Force (IAF) MIG-21 passes near Sukhoi-30 fighter jets before a drill for Air Force Day celebrations in Kalikunda IAF airbase around 170 km west of Kolkata on September 29, 2011
An Indian Air Force (IAF) MIG-21 passes near Sukhoi-30 fighter jets before a drill for Air Force Day celebrations in Kalikunda IAF airbase around 170 km west of Kolkata on September 29, 2011 - Sputnik International
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According to the Hindustan Times, the pilot, who reportedly shot down a Pakistani warplane in a dogfight in February, could be recommended for a Vir Chakra, India's third-highest wartime gallantry award.

The outlet reported, citing two anonymous air force officials, that there is a "good chance" that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman could be returning to the cockpit of a fighter soon.

According to the newspaper's sources, the final word on the matter will be said by the Bengaluru-based Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM), where the Indian officer is to be tested in the coming weeks.

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Indian army soldiers patrol near the highly militarized Line of Control dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, in Pallanwal sector, about 75 kilometers from Jammu, India, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Varthaman became famous nationwide after a fight between Indian and Pakistani warplanes over Kashmir in February.

According to New Delhi, the Indian MiG-21 pilot destroyed one Pakistani F-16 fighter jet, but had to eject after his own plane was also taken down. Varthaman was captured by the by Pakistani authorities, but released by Islamabad two days after the aerial clash as a gesture of goodwill. At the same time, Pakistan denies that Varthaman managed to shoot down one of its aircraft.

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