Producing evidence of having gotten the Pakistani F-16 that fell into Pakistani territory morning of February 27 – in the action that led to Wg Cdr Abhinandan being shot down into Pakistan and slated to return on March 1 as per Pakistan PN Imran Khan’s promise – the Indian military displayed a rear tail section of an American Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) AIM-120C missile. The missile, which the IAF said can only be compatible on an F-16 plane, was recovered from easylt of Rajouri in Indian territory.
Pakistan had initially denied loosing any F-16 and said it had two Indian pilots, but accepted the loss only by evening.
The joint press conference was addressed by Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, Maj Gen Surendra Singh Bahal and Rear Admiral Dalbir Singh Gujral. AVM Kapoor also revealed the details of the “most intense” dogfight in recent history where 8 IAF jets took on 24 Pakistan Air Force fighters, causing them to flee and loosing the said F-16 in the ensuing fight. According to AVM Kapoor, IAF planes and radars detected the Pakistani “package” around 10 am towards the general area “Jhangar, breaching the Indian airspace west of Rajouri towards the Sunderbani area “with the ingressing aircraft observed to be at various levels”.
The Indian formation that included Mig-21 Bison, SU-30 MKI and the Mirage-2000 intercepted the PAK planes, foiling their attempt to target Indian military installations. The PAF planes comprised of Mirage-3, JF-17 Thunder and F-16 aircraft. Gen Bahal later clarified that Pakistani bombs fell in the open areas of a Battallion and Brigade Headquarters and a logistics installation. One of the Mig-21s then shot down the F-16 that fell in POK. After being shot down, Wg Cdr Abhinandan’s parachute drifted into POK.
Kapoor also busted incorrect Pakistani claims about having got two IAF aircraft and three Indian pilots. “This was later revised to two aircraft and two pilots. However Indian Army units had spotted two parachutes of F-16 pilots falling into Pakistan. Pakistan later again changed their claim to holding one pilot in Indian custody,” he said.
Further, he said Pakistan was lying when it said that it deliberately targeted unpopulated open areas and not military installations since it was thwarted by a “swift IAF response” causing their bombs to fall in open areas of military installations causing no significant damage. Lastly, he said Pakistani claims of not having used F-16s is also disproved because of the “electronic signature” of the aircraft identified by the IAF.
General Bahal later said Sunderbani, Bhimber Gali, KG and Nowshera sectors were targetted in the daytime and again in the night by the Pakistan Army in ceasefire violations.
Expressing happiness over the impending release of Wing Commander Abhinandan tomorrow, Kapoor said, “The Pak gesture is in consonance with Geneva Conventions.
IAF is happy that Wing Commander Abhinandan will be freed and looks forward to his return tomorrow,” he said.