New Delhi: Contradicting US journal report that claimed that none of Pakistan’s F-16s was ‘missing’, the United States defence department said it ‘wasn’t aware of any investigation that was conducted to ascertain if PAF (Pakistan Air Force) had lost an aircraft after an aerial dogfight with Indian fighter jets on February 27. The development comes after two senior US defence officials with direct knowledge of the situation told the ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine that American personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none of the planes missing.
Distancing itself from the news report, the state department, while speaking to a leading daily said,”As a matter of policy, the Department does not publicly comment on details of government-to-government agreements on end-use monitoring of US-origin defence articles.” Furthermore it added,“It is important to note that since January 2018, the United States government has suspended security assistance to Pakistan.”
On Friday, ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine had said that US defence officials had taken stock of the count that was conducted at the invitation of Pakistan and come to the conclusion that no F-16 was downed. “The findings directly contradict the account of Indian Air Force officials, who said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own plane was downed by a Pakistani missile,” the report said.
It added,”It is possible that in the heat of combat, Varthaman, flying a vintage MiG-21 Bison, got a lock on the Pakistani F-16, fired, and genuinely believed he scored a hit.”
Later in the day, the Indian Air Force (IAF) sources rubbished the American magazine ‘Foreign Policy’ claims and reiterated that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot down Pakistan Air Force F-16 aircraft 7-8 km inside Pakistan Occupied Area in Sabzkot area there. The IAF sources also confirmed that radio communication of Pakistan Air Force intercepted by it confirms that one of the F-16s that attacked India on February 27 did not return to its base.
“Indian Forces have confirmed sighting ejections at 2 different places on that day(Feb 27). The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km. One was an IAF MIG 21 Bison and other a PAF aircraft. Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate PAF aircraft was a F-16,” the IAF sources stated.
On February 28, the Indian Air Force had displayed to the media pieces of the AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as an evidence to “conclusively” prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir.