While everybody hailed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for his superior aviation skills that helped him bringing down an F-16 fighter jet, many questioned the fact as to why the Indian Air Force didn’t send its ultra-modern Sukhoi-30 to intercept the airspace violation on February 27. Now a report suggests that it was because of bureaucratic delay in constructing ‘hard shelter’s also known as ‘blast pens’ due to which the Sukhois couldn’t be stationed in forward areas. A report by ‘The Hindu’ said the project was sanctioned only at the end of 2017, two decades after the jets were bought. “Owing to the bureaucratic delays, we could not develop blast pens for Su-30 MKIs near the Line of Control (LoC). The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) sanctioned the project only at the end of 2017,” the defence source was quoted as saying by ‘The Hindu’.
The Indian Air Force carried out pre-dawn airstrikes on February 26 and destroyed major launch pads of the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, which was behind the February 14 Pulwama terror attack. The initial reports suggested that the ‘Surgical Strike 2.0’ decimated Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Alpha 3 Control Rooms located in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakothi in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. More than 10 bombs were dropped by the multi-role fighter jet Mirage 2000 at around 3:30 am on February 26 morning. Understandably, Pakistan has downplayed the airstrike. The aerial attack came a day after Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a high-level meeting with all three service chiefs.
Following which, the Pakistan Air Force had tried to bomb military installations along the Line of Control on February 27. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman became 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 braveheart had sent. According to a Times of India report, the last radio message sent by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was 'R-73 selected.' This cryptic message tells us that the IAF pilot had managed to lock on Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 before shooting it down with the short-ranger missile.
Air Vice Marshal Ravi Kapoor in a press conference had said that, "at around 1000 hrs IAF radars detected a large package of PAF aircraft heading towards the Indian territory towards general area Jhangar." Media reports had said 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" fighters.