New Delhi: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s 51 Squadron will receive unit citation award from IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria for their exemplary role in executing the Balakot aerial strikes on February 27, stated news agency ANI on Sunday.

Group Captain Satish Pawar, the commanding officer of the squadron, will receive the award on behalf of the team for their efforts including the shooting down of a Pakistani F-16. For thwarting the aerial attack by Pakistan on February 27, Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal’s 601 Signal unit is also scheduled to be awarded the unit citation.

Notably, number 9 squadron will also be awarded the unit citation for their use of Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft during ‘Operation Bandar’ while carrying out the Balakot aerial strikes on February 26.

On February 27, the Pakistan Army shot IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman and captured him after he engaged in an aerial dogfight with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft for violating the Indian air space. Before being shot, Wing Commander Abhinandan downed an F-16 of the PAF with his Mig-21 Bison.

Pakistan’s attack came as a retaliation to the IAF’s strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26. India had dismantled the Pakistani camps as a retaliation to the Pulwama terror attack orchestrated by Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed on February 14.

The IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman became a face of unflinching courage in the wake of his capture by Pakistan in February. Besides, he was one of the several fighters who intercepted the approaching Pakistani fighters. His actions made him a national hero in India. In fact, on August 15, Abhinandan Varthaman was conferred with the prestigious Vir Chakra award. Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry award in India after the Param Vir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.