IAF presents pieces of U.S. AMRAAM missile.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday produced evidence to prove that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) deployed F-16 fighters to target Indian military installations, and one of which was downed. The armed forces, in a rare tri-service press conference, reiterated that they were fully prepared putting the onus of further escalation on Pakistan.
“There is no doubt that Pakistan has attempted to target our military installations. We responded swiftly and because of which their designs to deliver their bomb load at the intended targets were thwarted,” said Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) R.G.K. Kapoor. “In the aerial combat that ensued, one F-16 of the PAF was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison. The F-16 crashed and fell across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).”
On Wednesday, several PAF jets targeted Indian military positions, which Pakistan said was to show their ability to hit back following India’s strikes on Balakot. However, Pakistan has said no F-16s were used in the operation and no Pakistani jet was downed.
Later, AVM Kapoor displayed parts of an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) fired by an F-16, which fell in Indian territory. A senior defence source said the AMRAAM was supplied to Pakistan by the U.S. under strict conditions that it could not be used in an offensive role. “It is due to this they were trying to deny the very presence of an F-16 jet,” the source said .
AVM Kapoor said there were many factually incorrect statements made by Pakistan. The first one was the “disinformation” that two IAF aircraft were shot down and three pilots were downed. Pakistan had later stated that it had only one pilot in its custody.
To this, AVM Kapoor said the fact is that Indian Army units had reported sighting “two parachutes falling in the PoK which were of two F-16 pilots shot down by the IAF MiG-21 Bison.”
There was enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in the mission and Pakistan was trying to hide this fact, AVM Kapoor said. Parts of AMRAAM, which is carried only on the F-16s in the PAF, were recovered east of Rajauri in the Indian territory. “Therefore, the fact remains that one F-16 of the PAF was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison,” he said. The IAF’s early warning aircraft had recorded electronic signatures of the PAF fighters.
As for the Army’s role, Maj.Gen. Surindra Singh Mahal said the PAF “attempted” to target military establishments, including a Brigade Headquarters (HQ), a Battalion HQ, forward defences and a logistics installation. “However, given the high level of preparedness along the LoC and the immediate and punitive response by our forces. the PAF’s designs were foiled.”
He said the ground-based air defence systems had been put on alert along the border and mechanised formations had been on the standby. Despite the present turn of events, the Army was “committed to maintaining peace and stability in the region” and would “continue to act against agencies” that harboured inimical designs against India.