On Thursday, when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan surprised everyone by announcing return of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman during joint session of Pakistan Parliament, the big thought on India’s mind was what exactly will the top commanders of three services say at the unprecedented joint press conference at the South Block. Minutes into the conference, it was clear that the focus was not exactly on the pilot’s return but how Pakistan broke several international protocols during February 27 airspace violation.
Air Vice Marshal Ravi Kapoor said that, “at around 1000 hrs IAF radars detected a large package of PAF aircraft heading towards the Indian territory towards general area Jhangar.” Now, various media reports say that the ‘large package’ of the Pakistan Air Force consisted as many as 24 fighter jets. According to an NDTV report, that Pakistan’s strike squad included eight F-16s, four Mirage-3 aircraft, four Chinese made JF-17 "Thunder" fighter.
It is here that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman historic bravery comes in picture. According to the NDTV report, which was also concurred by Air Vice Marshal Kapoor, “one F-16 of PAF was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison.” For the uninitiated, MiG 21 is a Russian aircraft, which was inducted by India 56 years ago. Whereas Pakistan has F-16, which was given to it by the US. In simple comparison, F-16 is much superior than MiG-21 both in terms of technology and capacity.
So, what ensued on that fateful day was Wg Cdr Varthaman chasing down the F-16 and ultimately shooting it down. All this lasted for just 90 seconds, says The Hindustan Times report. But this dogfight in the Subcontinental skies will go down in the history of aviation as not just an unparalleld feat but also proves the superb training at skills of the Indian Air Force pilot. Just like Pakistan's F-16 fighter jet, MiG-21 has been continuously upgraded and witnessed extensive combat use by nations that purchased them from the US and the USSR, later Russia.
The fact that India has nailed Pakistan’s lie and exposed the F-16 strike squad shows that the Imran Khan government violated the agreement with the US that it will not use the aircraft on its neighbours or in peace time for any attack.