The Indian Air Force (IAF) has denied a report in an American magazine, Foreign Policy, which had said that none of the F-16 fighter jets of the Pakistan Air Force was shot down in the February 27 dogfight. The United States defence department on Friday supported the Indian claim, saying it was “not aware” of any investigation that was conducted to ascertain if Pakistan had lost an F-16 in a dogfight with Indian fighter jets on February 27. This contradicted Foreign Policy report.
“The Indian forces have confirmed ejections at two different places on that day. These were separated by at least 8-10 km. One was an IAF MiG 21 Bison and the other a PAF aircraft,” Air Vice Marshal R.G.V. Kapoor said.
The Indian government also said that on February 27, a day after India sent fighter jets to Pakistan's Balakot to strike a terror training camp, IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman had engaged with one of the Pakistani fighter jets that tried to target Indian military facilities and shot it down before he was hit and forced to eject. Abhinandan landed across the Line of Control and was in Pakistani custody for three days
According to the Foreign Policy, Pakistan invited the United States to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalized.
The IAF stated that the aerial engagement that followed one Mig 21 Bison, flown by Abhinandan, of the IAF was lost. “After the IAF attack on the terrorist camp at Balakot on Feb 26, PAF attempted a riposte on Feb 27. A large force of PAF F-16s, JF 17s and Mirage III/V aircraft were picked up by IAF radars. They were intercepted by IAF Su30-MKI, Mirage-2000 and Mig-21 Bison fighter guided by ground radars and AWACS. All attempts of PAF to attack any targets were thwarted by the IAF, during down one F-16 in Nowshera sector,”.
The IAF statement came after American magazine Foreign Policy quoted unnamed US defence officials that a physical count of Pakistan’s F-16s had found all were present and accounted for. This directly contradicts India’s claim of having shot down an F-16.
The Indian government also asked the US government to investigate whether Pakistan’s use of the F-16 against India violated the terms of the foreign military sale agreements.