Going public with radar images of the February 27 aerial engagement for the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) Monday said it had "irrefutable evidence" of a Pakistan Air Force F-16 being downed by an IAF MiG-21 Bison. It also cited radio intercepts, Indian Army sightings and statements by the Pakistan ISPR to underline that the PAF lost an F-16.
Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor told reporters: "IAF has irrefutable evidence of not only the fact that F-16 was used by PAF on February 27, 2019 but also that an IAF MiG 21 Bison shot down a PAF F-16… I have more credible evidence that is clearly indicative of the fact that Pakistan has lost one F-16. However, due to security and confidentiality concerns, we are restricting the information being shared in the public domain." Read in Bangla
The IAF statement comes days after a report in the Foreign Policy magazine cited US government officials saying that Pakistan's F-16 combat jets "have all been accounted for".
Detailing the sequence of events following the IAF air strike at Balakot, AVM Kapoor said: "As a repost, PAF aircraft attempted to target military installations in India. However, their attempts were thwarted by IAF aircraft. PAF bombs fell in various Indian Army formation compounds, and they were unable to cause any damage to our military installations. As a result of the interception, the primary objective of PAF strike was not achieved. They were intercepted by IAF Su30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft, guided by ground radars and AWACS. All PAF aircraft were identified by their electronic signature. The IAF aircraft were vectored to shoot down PAF aircraft."
"PAF aircraft fired multiple AMRAAM missiles which were defeated by use of counter-measures and tactical manoeuvres. In the aerial combat that followed, one Mig-21 Bison of the lAF, piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan, shot down one F-16 of PAF. As shown in the radar image on the slide, the F-16 crashed and fell across-the LOC in Pakistan-occupied J&K. The IAF lost one MiG-21 in the aerial engagement and the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan, ejected safely but his parachute drifted into PoJK where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army," he said.
"The analysis of electronic emission have shown that the aircraft picked up by the ELINT intercepts from AWACS and radio transcripts indicated F-16s in the area directly in front of Wing Commander Abhinandan's aircraft," AVM Kapoor said.
According to the IAF, Indian Army posts in the vicinity of the LoC in the Jhangar sector visually sighted two separate parachutes. The first sightings was due west, in general area Sabzkot, and the second was southwest, general area Tandar.
"The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km. Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate that PAF aircraft was an F-16. The two parachutes were seen from places at a vantage point," the IAF said, showing the actual locations on a map.