New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian Air Force has rejected a report by Foreign Policy saying that no Pakistani F-16 jet was downed on 27 February, explaining that a MiG-21 had shot down a PAF aircraft, noting that it was later identified as an F-16 by electronic signatures.
“They were intercepted by IAF Su, Mirage, and MiG-21 fighters guided by ground radars and AWACS. All attempts of [the] PAF to attack any target was thwarted by the IAF. During the aerial engagement that followed, one MiG-21 bison of the IAF shot down one F-16 in Nowshera sector”, the IAF said in a statement obtained by Sputnik.
In stark contrast to claims made by the Indian Air Force on the shooting down of a US-made F-16 fighter during an aerial dogfight on 27 February, two senior US defence officials have rejected India's claim of its MiG-21 Bison destroying the Pakistani F-16 in head-on action. The US officials claiming to have direct knowledge of the situation told US magazine Foreign Policy that US personnel had recently counted F-16s in Pakistan and found none missing. The magazine blamed India for misleading the world through baseless and false claims.
"It is possible that in the heat of combat, Varthaman, flying a vintage MiG-21 Bison, got a lock on the Pakistani F-16, fired, and genuinely believed he scored a hit. But the count, conducted by US authorities on the ground in Pakistan, sheds doubt on New Delhi's version of events, suggesting that Indian authorities may have misled the international community about what happened that day", the report claimed.
"The Pakistani aircraft was seen by ground forces falling from the sky on the Pakistan side", Vijay Gokhale, India's foreign secretary who also flagged the issue to the US official regarding violation of F-16 sale contract by Pakistan had said on the day of the dogfight between Indian and Pakistani fighter jets on 27 February.
The IAF, in a separate statement, also said that during combat, the use of F-16s by Pakistan's Air Force (PAF) and multiple launches of AMRAAM were conclusively observed. The IAF also demonstrated the AMRAAM. Sme parts of the missile fell in areas of Rajouri in J&K (Jammu and Kashmir), injuring a civilian on the ground.
"False claims by Pakistan of shooting down a Su-30, appears to be a cover-up for loss of its own aircraft", the IAF claimed.
On Thursday, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for India's foreign ministry once again reiterated that Pakistan had used F-16s and as per understanding between the US and Pakistan, "this should have not been done".
However, Indian experts have expressed qualms over the US experts' report and said that it may have been done with an agenda.
"Everyone has an agenda", Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retired) told Sputnik when asked whether this is a face-saving exercise for the US.
"Such a statement is but obvious that they are unable to digest a MIG 21 B scoring over a F-16? The fact that their air force analysts are gaming this engagement to draw out reasons for the failure of F-16s in this dogfight is the other story!" Vengalil Venugopal, a senior defence analyst tweeted.
Such a statement is but obvious that they are unable to digest a MIG 21 B scoring over a F 16? The fact that their Air Force analysts are gaming this engagement to draw out the reasons for the failure of F16 in this dog fight is the other story! https://t.co/erpv2gRxLx— Venugopal Vengalil (@vgmenon99) April 5, 2019
My counter to this so called count of F16 s in Pak inventory! Their close partner Turkey could have transfered one ac temporarily to support Pak claims? Does the doubters have an answer to this? https://t.co/erpv2gRxLx
— Venugopal Vengalil (@vgmenon99) April 5, 2019
"This article is based on half-truths and conjectures. No US military official has been named. There is a clear anti-India bias in the article to pedal a narrative with intent to create doubt and try to influence Indian voters", Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retired) concluded.
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