India on Thursday presented evidence which proved that Pakistani Air Force (PAF) F-16 fighter jets violated Indian airspace and attempted to target Indian military installations on 27 February.
At a joint press conference held at the lawns of the Defence Ministry by the Army, Navy and Air Force in New Delhi, pieces of an F-16 AMRAAM air-to-air missile was displayed before the media as the evidence that nailed Pakistan’s lie that they did not use an F-16 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.
The senior IAF officer also said that Pakistan’s decision to release IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan was under Geneva Conventions.
“As far as IAF is concerned, we are happy that our pilot is being released. We are extremely happy to have him back. Once he is handed over to us we then make any further comment,” he said.
Asked how India looked at Islamabad’s decision, which has been described as a “peace gesture” by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Kapoor said: “We only see it as a gesture which is consonance with all Geneva Conventions.”
“On 27 February at 1000 hours, IAF radars detected a large package of PAF aircraft heading towards the Indian territory. They breached the Indian airspace west of Rajouri in the Sundarbani area,” he said narrating the details of the Pakistani violation of the Indian airspace.
“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.
He accused Pakistan of spreading misinformation that it had shot down two IAF aircraft and three pilots were down.
“Fact is that Indian Army units reported sighting two parachutes falling in PoK which were of two F-16 pilots shot down by the IAF MiG,” he said, adding that Pakistan accepted that they had only one IAF pilot in captivity only in the evening.
“Pak claimed they intentionally dropped weapons in open space where no military or humans were present. Fact is that they targeted military installations. PAF bombs fell inside Indian Army compounds but could not damage anything,” the senior IAF official pointed out.
He said that the IAF deployed Sukhoi Su-30 MKI, Mirages and MiG-21 Bison to intercept the PAF fighters. The AVM said that PAF fighters comprised F16 and JF17s and “perhaps Mirages”.
Major General Surendra Singh Mahal of Indian Army said that the PAF targeted a Brigade headquarter, a battalion headquarter, the defences and a logistical headquarter.
“However the punitive response by our own forces, Pakistani designs were foiled,” he said adding that all ground-based defence systems are on high alert along the LoC and parts of IB and mechanised forces are on stand-by.
When asked about the number of casualties in the 26 February IAF operation against a major terror camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in Pakistan’s Balakot, AVM Kapoor said that it is “premature to say number of casualties on the camp” but added that “whatever we intended to destroy we got that result”.
“We have evidence to show that whatever we wanted to do and targets we wanted to destroy, we have done that. Decision to show the evidence is on senior leadership,” the AVM added.
Maj Gen Mahal said that as long as Pakistan continues to harbour terrorists, India will continue to target the terror camps.
On a question on whether there will be escalation now, the senior officers said that the escalation has been done by Pakistan and the forces are ready for any escalation.