United States media report says all of Pakistans F-16s intact; IAF rebuts

Posted April 07, 2019

The Air Force, in a statement, said, "during the aerial engagement that followed, one MIG 21 Bison of the IAF shot down Pak's F16 in Nowshera sector".

Ghafoor's statements came hours after the publication of a report in US-based Foreign Policy magazine that quoted two unnamed USA defence officials as verifying that, following a count of Pakistan's F-16 fighter jet fleet, there were no aircraft missing.

The incident involving the Indian (IAF) and Pakistan (PAF) Air Forces took place on 27 February, but some of the details remain unclear, as the two sides have brought up conflicting info on the matter.

"The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km (about 5-6.2 miles)". News agency ANI, quoting IAF sources, reported that radio communication of Pakistan Air Force intercepted confirms that one of the F-16s that attacked India on February 27 did not return to its base.

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The magazine said, India has once again misled the world through baseless and false claims.

According to the report, two United States defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said the United States personnel had done a count of Pakistan's F-16s and found none missing.

According to ANI, IAF sources stated that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman had shot down a PAF F-16 during the aerial engagement when a complement of PAF fighter jets tried to bomb Indian military installations.

One of the senior USA defense officials said that Pakistan invited the United States to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalized. After the February 27 dogfight, India had complained to the USA that Pakistan misused the F-16 and also showed as evidence a piece of an AMRAAM (advanced medium-range air-to-air missile) that can be only fired from a US-made F-16 which are with PAF. He would later retract to say only one Indian pilot was in his country's custody, never revealing much on the status of the other pilot. A large force of PAF F-16s, JF-17s and Mirage III/V aircraft were picked up by IAF radars.

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Pakistan had initially maintained that no F-16s were deployed against India.

Evidence suggests that Pakistan's F-16s were involved in the battle because the remnants of a US-made AIM-120 air-to-air missile were found near the site. India had claimed that Abhinandan was able to shoot down a F-16 fighter before being hit by a missile. Pakistan denied the claim.

Sources also drew attention to the statements by Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan who initially claimed that PAF had shot down two aircraft and captured two IAF pilots.

The sources also presented a photo, posted at that time on social media, which showed Pakistani ground troops gathered around the mangled engine of a crashed aircraft. The Pakistani aircraft, according to India, fell on Pakistani territory too. On 26 February, India said it had bombed a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot region in Khyber Paktunkhwa province.

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