Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria will be awarding a unit citation to the 51 Squadron to which the Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman belonged news agency ANI reported. The announcement comes just ahead of 87th anniversary of Indian Air Force on October 8, 2019. The IAF has planned an air display by various aircraft which will be the hallmark of the Air Force Day Parade 2019 cum Investiture Ceremony at AF Station Hindan (Ghaziabad).
Wing Commander Varthaman shot down an advanced American-made F-16 before his own MiG-21 Bison fell to enemy fire on February 27, in the air battle that took place after Indian jets bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp terror in Pakistan’s Balakot. The Commanding Officer Group Captain Satish Pawar will take the award on 51 Squadron’s behalf, ANI reported.
Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal’s 601 Signal Unit will get a citation for thwarting an approaching air strike by Pakistani jets on February 27, according to news agency ANI. The 9 Squadron whose French-origin Mirage 2000 fighter jets dropped laser-guided bombs on the Jaish camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26 will also be awarded a unit citation.
Wing Commander Varthaman was captured by Pakistani forces on February 27 and released days later. He returned to the cockpit in less than six months after recuperating from his injuries.
India bombed the Jaish camp in Balakot in response to a terror attack in which a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb near a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, killing 40 soldiers on February 14.