A US media report on Friday claimed that no Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft was found 'missing' during their inspection in the aftermath of the Indian Air Force shooting down an F-16 fighter jet during an aerial dogfight on February 27. Amid the controversy over the US media's claims, IAF (Indian Air Force) sources have told Republic TV on Friday that there have been multiple levels of confirmation of the aerial engagement between India and Pakistan air force on February 27 in which IAF's Mig 21 Bison shot down the PAF's F-16 in Jammu and Kashmir's Nowshera sector.
In a Republic TV exclusive newsbreak, the IAF sources have confirmed that electronic signatures were gathered for the force which indicated that the PAF aircraft which was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan, was a F-16.
While Pakistan has been in denial mode on the incident, Republic TV had accessed exclusive details of the IAF debriefing of Wing Commander Abhinandan which confirmed that Pak officers asked questions about the F-16 plane to the IAF pilot. Wing Commander Abhinandan returned from Pakistan to India on March 1.
Inside sources have revealed that during the debriefing by IAF team, Wing Commander Abhinandan stated that a senior Pak AF officer took details of his manoeuvres that led to the downing of the F-16 fighter plane - which seemingly confirms that Pakistan has been lying that its Air Force did not use the F-16 during the attack on India.
According to the Foreign Policy magazine, 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 finalised.
"A US count of Pakistan's F-16 fleet has found that all the jets are present and accounted for, a direct contradiction to India's claim that it shot down one of the fighter jets during a February clash," Lara Seligman of the magazine reported on Thursday.
The count of the F-16 fighter planes in Pakistan has been completed, and "all aircraft were present and accounted for," an unnamed defence official was quoted as saying by the magazine. The Department of Defence did not immediately respond to a question on its count of F-16 fighter jets in Pakistan.
While the Indian Air Force on February 28 displayed pieces of the AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir, the neighybouring country constantly stayed in the state of disagreement over the incident.
India launched a counter-terror operation against a JeM training camp in Balakot. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.
(With PTI inputs)