Electronic signatures confirm F-16 hit: IAF

Geraldine Edwards
April 7, 2019

Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine reported on Thursday that American personnel had recently counted the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16s and found none of the planes missing.

Two senior US defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation told Foreign Policy that USA personnel recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing.

However, now that the U.S. personnel have completed the count, "all aircraft were present and accounted for", the official told the magazine.

A large number of the F-16s were purchased by Pakistan under a U.S. security aid programme, which imposes certain limits on how the aircraft can be used.

An IAF statement on Friday repeated what it had said earlier: "During the aerial engagement... one MiG-21 Bison of the IAF shot down, one F-16 in Nowshera sector". Air India did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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Minutes later, at 12:42 pm, the 7 NLI radio operator said: "Enemy ka jo tabah hua parinda wale pakad liye hain, hamne apne unit mein laya".

"The truth always prevails and is always the best policy", Khan tweeted. India needs introspection especially over atrocities in IOK (Indian Occupied Kashmir).

Ghafoor again reiterated the official government policy that the "region needs peace, progress & prosperity". "Later when 2 Indian jets crossed LOC they were shot down by PAF".

Initially Pakistan said it had captured two Indian pilots but the military later clarified it had just one pilot in custody, who was later released.

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. All 4 missile seeker heads recovered intact from the wreckage and held. Pakistan and its professional armed forces staying humble by not drum beating. "We have more truth on this to share", he added.

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The Indian pilot took a missile hit during the February 27 aerial battle over the disputed Kashmir region and ejected safely into Pakistani territory.

Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan have been hostile towards each other since the two states broke off from the British Empire in 1947. "It is effectively a slap in India's face".

Pakistan's former high commissioner to India Abdul Basit pointed out that the Balakot air strike and the air battle the day after was not the only time New Delhi had misled both Indian citizens and the worldwide community.

The air strikes were carried out after the JeM terror outfit claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were martyred.

The Indian Air Force, however, stuck to its stand on April 5, saying that it had conclusive proof of shooting down a PAF F-16 on February 27.

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Commenting on the United States inspectors' report, which said that none of the F-16s in Pakistan's possession were missing, Khan noted that "the truth always prevails and is always the best policy". It also shows that Varthaman was involved in a dogfight with an F-16.

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