The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday recommended Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for the Vir Chakra, the third highest wartime gallantry award after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra. The IAF officer has been recommended for the gallantry award for shooting down Pakistan’s F-16 fighter jet on February 27, after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) warplanes violated the Indian airspace. Pakistan Air Force Pilot Shahzaz Ud Din Whose F-16 Was Shot Down by Wg Cd Abhinandan Varthaman Mistaken to be Indian; Lynched by PoK Locals?.
Along with Wing Commander Varthaman, the IAF also recommended 12 fighter pilots of Mirage-2000 aircraft for the Vayu Sena Medal for successfully carrying out air strikes on Jaish-e-Mohammed headquarters in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26. Meanwhile, reports surfaced earlier in the day that Wg Cdr Varthaman is likely to resume duty and will fly fighter planes again. IAF Air Strikes in Pakistan: ‘We Don’t Count the Dead, Says Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa After BJP Chief Amit Shah Claims Over 250 JeM Terrorists Killed in Balakot.
According to reports, there are high chances of the IAF officer returning to a fighter cockpit soon but only after the final clearance by the Bengaluru-based Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM). However, The IAF transferred the officer out of the Srinagar airbase amid concerns over his security in Kashmir valley. The IAF officer has been posted to an important airbase in the Western sector. Lockheed Martin Busts Pakistan’s Lie; American Aircraft Manufacturer Not to Sue India For Claiming IAF’s MiG-21 Bison Shot Down PAF F-16 Fighter Jet.
Wg Cdr Varthaman was part of a team comprosing of six Mi-21 Bison pilots who took off from Srinagar, along with Su-30 MKIs, Mig-29s and Mirage-2000s from other air force stations in response to Pakistan’s airspace violation on February 27. According to reports, the dogfight lasted for about 15 minutes, during which the IAF pilot managed to “lock on” to PAF’s F-16 and then fired R-73 missile.
The PAF fighters dropped bombs at army formation camps in West of Rajouri in Sunderbani of Jammu and Kashmir. During the aerial combat, Wg Cdr Varthaman let loose the Vympel R-73 air-to-air missile at the Pakistan fighter jet, F-16, before he himself was hit. After ejecting from his MIg-21 Bison, his parachute drifted in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) where he was taken into custody by the Pakistani Army. Pakistan’s F-16 Which Violated Indian Air Space Shot Down by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman with Mig-21 Bison; IAF Presents Cover of AMRAAM Missile As Evidence.
The IAF officer was released almost after 60 hours by Pakistan on March 1. After his return from Pakistan via the Attari-Wagah border, the IAF pilot underwent a series of medical tests at Army’s Research and Referral (R&R) hospital in Delhi.
(Picture Courtesy: Twitter/#IAF_MCC)