Shailesh Kumar, National Defence,
New Delhi, 28 February 2019
On 27 Feb 19 at around 1000 hrs IAF radars detected a large package of PAF aircraft heading towards the Indian territory towards general area Jhangar. They breached the Indian airspace west of Rajauri in Sunderbani Area.
The ingressing aircraft were observed to be at various levels. IAF fighters including MiG-21 Bison, Su-30 MKI. Mirage-2000 were tasked to intercept the PAF aircraft.
The PAF aircraft attempting to target military installations were intercepted by IAF fighter aircraft which thwarted their plans. Although PAF bombs have fallen in Indian Army Formation compounds however they were unable to cause any damage to our Military Installations.
In the aerial combat that ensued one F-16 of PAF was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison. The F-16 crashed and fell across the LOC in POJ&K.
The IAF lost one MiG-21 in the aerial engagement and though the Pilot ejected safely his parachute drifted into POJ&K where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army.
There have been many factually incorrect statements that have been made by Pakistan
The First blatant disinformation was that two IAF aircraft were shot down by Pakistan and three pilots were downed. This figure was later revised downwards to two IAF aircraft and two Pilots. The fact however, is that Indian Army units had reported sighting two parachutes falling in the POJ&K which were of two F-16 pilots shot down by the IAF MiG-21 Bison Pakistan later in the evening changed its statement to say that one Indian pilot was in their custody. Therefore. it was only by late evening that Pakistan accepted the fact.
Secondly, Pakistan claimed that they intentionally dropped weapons in open space where there was no human presence or military posts The fact is that the PAF aircraft targeted military installations However they were intercepted by IAF fighter aircraft that thwarted their plans. Although PAF bombs have fallen in Indian Army Formation compounds however they were unable to cause any significant damage to our Military Installations due to swift IAF response.
Pakistan also stated that no F-16s were used in the operation and no Pakistani Plane was downed by Indian Air Force. There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission and Pakistan is trying to hide this fact. Also parts of AMRAAM Air to Air Missile which is carried only on the F-16s in PAF were recovered East of Rajauri within the Indian territory. Therefore, the fact remains that one F-16 of PAF was shot down by an IAF MG-21 Bison aircraft.
IAF has recently learnt that Pakistan has announced that Wg Cdr Abhinandan will be returned to India tomorrow. IAF looks forward to the return of Wg Cdr Abhinandan.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.