India ready for another strike against Pakistan

07 April, 2019, 16:30 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • US officials say no Pakistani F-16s missing raising doubts over India's claim report

A new report from the USA has said that India did not shoot down the Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during the aerial dogfight in February, as was originally claimed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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". "The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km", it said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 6 accused the BJP of "whipping up war hysteria", saying its false claim of downing a Pakistani F-16 has "backfired", days after a leading American magazine claimed that none of the US-manufactured fighter jets of the PAF were missing.

On Friday, reacting to a U.S. media report which questioned the IAF version of a Pakistan F-16 being shot down said that the electronic signatures gathered by the Air Force indicate that the PAF aircraft was an F-16.

Pakistan Air Force's attempted "reposte" on February 27 comprising a large force of Pakistan Air Force comprising F-16s, JF 17s and Mirage III/V aircraft were picked up by the IAF radars, the IAF said.

The IAF has clinching digital evidence to show how a Pakistani F-16 jet and its pilot were brought down during an aerial dogfight on February 27. After the February 27 dogfight, India had complained to the USA that Pakistan misused the F-16 and also showed as evidence a piece of an AMRAAM (advanced medium-range air-to-air missile) that can be only fired from a US-made F-16 which are with PAF.

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The pilot, Abhinandan Varthaman, became a national hero in India after his capture and subsequent "peace gesture" release, with many admirers attempting to emulate his iconic handlebar moustache and some selling merchandise emblazoned with his face. Air Vice Marshal RGV Kapoor had confirmed that, "during aerial engagements one MiG 21 Bison of the IAF shot down one F-16". One of the many nicknames for the Soviet Union-made MiG-21 is silver swallow.

This comes a day after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan slammed India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for purportedly trying to use false claims of Pakistan using an F-16 in the February dogfight between the two countries to promote "war hysteria". However, around eight seconds later, the F-16 went missing from the graphic screen of the AWACS, reflecting that the jet went down.

In the first quarter of 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government chose to assign 10 percent quotas to economically weaker groups in India, pledged to transfer money to bank accounts of farmers and conducted air strikes inside Pakistan following a terrorist attack on security forces in India's Pulwama. If the USA report turns out to be true, it would be a further blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had said that India had taught Pakistan a lesson.

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, Pakistan invited the United States to physically count its F-16 planes on its ground after the aerial fight as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalised.

The writer has it on good authority it seems, though the two United States defence officials vouching for the same remain unnamed - weightiness of the issue notwithstanding.

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