Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman was held captive for 60 hours in Pakistan after his aircraft was shot down during the India-Pakistan standoff of February 2019. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Sunday referring to the row over Rafale purchase deal said, such controversies slow down defence acquisitions, affecting capabilities of the armed forces. He said that had Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman been flying a Rafale instead of a MiG 21 during the India-Pakistan stand-off after the Balakot strike last year, the outcome would have been different.
Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman was held captive for 60 hours in Pakistan after his aircraft was shot down during the India-Pakistan standoff of February 2019.
The Bofors deal too got mired in controversy (during the Rajiv Gandhi government) despite the Bofors guns “being good”, Dhanoa noted.
Dhanoa was the IAF chief from December 31, 2016 to September 30, 2019.
The mission that targeted terror camps in Balakot was named Operation Spice. In this first of its kind mission, aircraft flew from Gwalior to Balakot located 1500 km away to carry out the attack. During the mission, the Mirage 2000 was refueled in mid-air. The mission was codenamed 'Spice' as the Mirage was carrying Israeli spice bombs.
Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured after his MiG-21 was brought down during the February 27 dogfight with Pakistani Air Force F-16s, was conferred with Vir Chakra on the 73rd Independence Day. Varthaman was honoured for displaying exemplary bravery during the aerial conflict that occurred after India carried out an airstrike on Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camps in Pakistan's Balakot to avenge the February 14, 2019, Pulwama suicide bombing.