Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday rejected a US magazine’s claim that Pakistan had not lost any F-16 fighter jet as “baseless” and slammed the Congress for “doubting” India’s own defence forces.
“IAF gave proof on it with electronic signature of F-16. Whoever has written it (the article), it’s baseless and source based. The part of AM-RAAM missile, which is used only with F-16, how was it found in India?” she said a public event in Ahmedabad on Saturday night.
An article published by Foreign Policy magazine had raised questions on India’s claim of shooting down a PAF F-16 during an aerial engagement on 27 February after the PAF fighters violated Indian airspace to target Indian military installations in Jammu-Kashmir. Two unnamed US officials were cited as the source of the story.
“The article that came in ‘Foreign Policy’ – many people are calling it baseless. Someone showed me on social media that US officials are also saying that they didn’t conduct any such investigation,” she said referring to Pentagon’s statement that it was not aware of any investigation that the report cites.
Criticising Congress, Sitharaman said, “There are a lot of people who are spreading misinformation. But it is sad that in our own country, we have a lot of people in Congress party’s ‘Bhajan Mandali’ who are doubting and raising questions on what the defence forces are saying. It suits them.”
Rubbishing the report, the IAF on Friday stated that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman had shot down a PAF F-16 with his MiG 21 Bison.
The IAF said that the F-16 aircraft was shot down 7-8 km inside Sabzkot in PoK.
The force also said that electronic signatures and intercepted radio communication of PAF revealed that one of their F-16s that was involved in the attack on India did not return to its base.
The IAF said that there were confirmed sighting of ejections on 27 February at two different places separated by at least 8-10 km. While one of the ejections was of an IAF MIG 21 Bison, the other was of a PAF aircraft.