Monday, 22 April, 2019

Pakistan to release 360 Indian prisoners as tensions ease

Pakistan calls for 'truth' from India on aerial dogfight US Finds No Pakistani F-16 Missing: Report
Leonard Rios | 07 April, 2019, 16:29

The Indian Air Force (IAF) rubbished a USA media report which raised questions on India's claim that it has shot down a Pakistani F-16 with a MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft on 27 February.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday denied Foreign Policy magazine's claims of India not having downed a Pakistani F-16 plane last month and criticised leaders of the Congress for "doubting and raising questions on what the defence forces are saying".

On Friday India's NDTV cited the military as saying: "The Indian Force have confirmed sighting ejections at two different places on that day".

"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".

USA government's position appears to be in line with India, which in the backdrop of the attack, has reaffirmed its account of the downing of the Pakistani F-16, citing "electronic signature" as evidence.

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IAF officials told ET that a Pakistani fighter aircraft of a particular "call sign" went missing after IAF's Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot it down using his MiG-21 Bison jet during the dogfight with the PAF that day. "BJP's attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pak F-16 has backfired with US Defence officials also confirming that no F-16 was missing from Pakistan's fleet", he said in a tweet.

IAF sources also said it has conclusive "circumstantial evidence" including wireless intercepts, signals and graphic captures from airborne warning and control system (AWACS) and electronic signatures to conclude that the F-16 jet was shot down during the aerial combat. Abhinandan landed in Pakistan and was captured by Pakistan's armed forces. The encounter left at least one Russian-built Indian MiG 21 Bison destroyed.

IAF sources said the second parachute was of the F-16 pilot, who was taken to the Corps Military Hospital, as DGISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor had initially announced that two Indian pilots were in its captivity. The personnel were invited by Pakistan to count its F-16 planes after the incident.

India piled the blame for Pulwama bombing on Pakistan without presenting any proof.

Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took U.S. personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets, one United States official said. It said during the meeting National Security Adviser Ajit Doval informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the three forces-Air Force, Army and Navy-were ready for any action against Pakistan and that they were only waiting for a political sanction. And it took a while because not all aircraft were immediately available for inspection due to the conflict.

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