Fighter jets from the Indian Air Force repulsed a morning raid launched by Pakistani F-16 fighter jets today which prevented damage on Indian troop positions or infrastructure, however, in the process an IAF MiG21 Bison jet was shot down while engaging a Pakistani F-16 which also never made it back to its Pakistani air base. One Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured alive by Pakistani army and as per reports from Pakistan, was in good health.
ANI spoke to multiple Government sources to piece together sequence of events that resulted in the retaliation of the Pakistani Air Force offensive on Indian military assets. The sources wished to remain anonymous due to the proximity of operational information.
At around 9:45AM, Indian radar systems including airborne AWACS ( Airborne Warning and Control System) and ground systems noticed simultaneous activity at different Pakistani air bases in Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Islamabad.
A formation of 10 Pakistani Airforce jets took off at 9:50AM, it was observed that the aircraft started gathering together over Northern areas of Pakistan in an attempt to attack Indian targets in parts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Indian Air Force’s Air Defence network was activated immediately and five combat aircraft including two MiG 21s and three Sukhoi-30s were scrambled from Awantipora and Srinagar airfields which were closest to the area of intrusion in the Naushera sector.
Three Pakistan Air Force F-16s violated Indian air space and remained within Indian territory for a period of 2-3 minutes upon which they were confronted by the two IAF MiG 21s first.
Government sources revealed that the intruding PAF jets had an Indian Army brigade headquarter and an oil dump as their target when they dropped three non-guided bombs on them but missed their target by a wide gap. Media images from the site of the exploded ordnance revealed shallow craters in grassy knolls.
Sources in the Western Air Command, in charge of conducting Air operations, said they heard one of the MiG-21 pilots defending Indian air space, radio in to headquarters informing them that he was going to engage the intruding PAF F-16 jet.
Soon after, Indian Army troops and other monitoring outposts witnessed the Pakistani F-16 going down in flames on the Pakistan side of the Lam valley with a pilot paradropping that side, condition of the Pakistani pilot could not be ascertained.
However, the fate of the MiG-21 aircraft flown by Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman was known only after his plane was found to be overdue at the Awantipora airbase. India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a demarche to Pakistan saying “Pakistan would be well advised to ensure than no harm comes to the Indian defence personnel in its custody. India also expects his immediate and safe return.”
Sources said that the immediate scrambling of Indian fighter jets helped foil Pakistani attempts to target Army units and oil depot thereby thwarting Pakistani designs of inflicting heavy Indian military loses.