Amid reports that the United States has sought information from Pakistan over the use of Pakistani Air Force (PAF) F-16 fighter jets against India in a failed strike on military installations on 27 February, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said that Islamabad may have violated its agreement with Washington.
At a press conference in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore on Monday, the ACM said that he is not aware of the details of the individual agreement but Pakistan is in trouble if it contained specific restrictions on the use of F-16.
“I don’t know what the individual agreement between America and Pakistan is. If the individual agreement was that they’ll not use it (F-16) for offensive purposes then I think they have violated that,” said the Chief of the Air Staff.
He, however, added that Pakistan did use F-16 combat fighter jets against India.
“We have got pieces of the AMRAAM missile in our territory which we displayed. Obviously I think they (Pakistan) have lost an F-16 aircraft in that combat. Obviously they have been using the aircraft against us,” the ACM said.
India had on 28 February, a day after Pakistan’s failed attack, presented the wreckage of an AMRAAM air-to-air missile as evidence that F-16s were used to target India.
“Pakistan claimed they did not use F16. There are enough evidences through electronic signature that F-16 was used. Parts of AMRAAM air-to-air missile, which is carried only by PAF F-16, was recovered east of Rajouri within the Indian territory,” said Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor at a tri-services press conference.
“IAF fighters were tasked to intercept the intruding Pakistani aircraft and foiled their attack. Although PAF jets dropped bombs, they were unable to cause any damage to our military installations,” he said.
The AVM said that in the aerial combat one PAF F-16 was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison aircraft and it fell across the LoC in PoK.
On 2 March, the US State Department said that Washington is seeking more information on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jets.
“Due to non-disclosure agreements in Foreign Military Sales contracts, we cannot discuss the specifics of end user-agreements contained within,” Lt Col Kone Faulkner, a Defense Department spokesperson told PTI.
Read More: US seeks information from Pakistan on ‘misuse’ of F-16 against India
In further embarrassment to Pakistan, Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-16, refuted a Pakistani media report which claimed that the Bethesda-based aerospace company is planning to “sue” India over “incorrect claim of shooting down of Pakistan’s F-16 by IAF”.
Rubbishing the media report, the defence manufacturer tweeted, “Lockheed Martin has made no such comments.”
Pakistan categorically said that no F-16 fighter jets were used and denied that one of its planes had been downed by the Indian Air Force.
Meanwhile, the IAF chief confirmed hitting the targets adding that the IAF does not calculate the number of the dead.
Briefing the media in Coimbatore, the air chief said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale has in his statement clearly amplified the target.
“The target has been clearly amplified by the Foreign Secretary in his statement. If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target, otherwise why would he (Pak PM) have responded, if we dropped bombs in the jungles why would he respond,” he said.
Read More: Air chief confirms hitting targets at Balakot, says IAF doesn’t count number of dead
On being asked about using the MiG-21 aircraft for aerial combat with Pakistani fighter jets, Dhanoa said, “One is a planned operation in which you plan and carry out. But when an adversary does a strike on you, every available aircraft goes in, irrespective of which aircraft it is. All aircraft are capable of fighting the enemy”.
Speaking on MiG-21 Bison, Dhanoa said the aircraft is a capable one and that it has been upgraded, has better radar, air-to-air missiles and advanced weapons system.