Seconds before aerial dogfight, this was IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman's last radio message
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has become the first ever fighter pilot in the world to shoot down an F-16 from a vintage MiG-21 ‘Bison’ combat jet. Though several accounts have emerged about the 90-second dogfight in the skies over the Line of Control, new report has revealed the last radio message that the brave heart had sent. According to a Times of India report, the last radio message sent by Wg Cdr Varthaman was ‘R-73 selected.’ This cryptic message tells us that the IAF pilot had managed to lock on Pakisatn Air Force’s F-16 before shooting it down with the short-ranger missile.
Why the IAF pilot chose R-73 is because according to officials, for such close combat, this missile is much better than RVV-AE medium-range air-to-air missiles, which are also carried by the MiG-21s. On Saturday, The Indian Air Force took to Twitter to elaborate about the aerial combat. “On 27 Feb 19 at around 1000 hrs IAF radars detected a large package of PAF aircraft heading towards the Indian territory towards general area Jhangar. They breached the Indian airspace west of Rajauri in Sunderbani Area,” the IAF said in a series of tweet.
“The ingressing aircraft were observed to be at various levels. IAF fighters including MiG-21 Bison, Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000 were tasked to intercept the intruder. PAF aircraft attempting to target military installations were intercepted by IAF fighters which thwarted their plans,” another tweet said. “The IAF lost one MiG-21 in the aerial engagement & the Pilot ejected safely his parachute drifted into POJ&K where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army,” the IAF said about Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s arrest in Pakistan.
Recovering at the Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi, the IAF pilot has said that he face lot of ‘mental harassment.’ Wg cdr Abhinandan is the second Indian Air Force pilot, who was captured by the Pakistani authorities. Before him, then Flt Lt K Nachiketa was arrested by Pakistan during Kargil War in 1999 after his Mig-27 flamed out.
While Wing Commander Abhinandan was released within 72 hours, it took 8 days for Indian government to secure Nachiketa’s freedom. "Welcome Home Wing Commander Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are an inspiration for 130 crore Indians. Vande Mataram!" tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi moments after the brave IAF pilot crossed over from Pakistan at Wagah border at 9:21 pm.