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After denying for weeks India’s allegation that it had used the US-made F-16 in the aerial combat with New Delhi on February 27, Pakistan on Monday said that “it retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self-defence”.
Pakistan further claimed to have shot down two of Indian jets without losing any of its F-16s.
“We shot down two Indian jets in self-defence. India can assume any type of their choice, even F-16. Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self-defence,” the Director-General of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Public Relations said.
Pakistan had so far maintained that it had used JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft jointly developed with China during the dogfight with Indian warplanes on February 27.
In an interview to Russian news agency Sputnik, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, Spokesman for the Pakistan Army had said, “The aircraft which engaged those targets and fought them were JF-17. As regard to how to use F-16, in what context (they) were used or not because at that point of time our entire Air Force was airborne-now it remains between Pakistan and the US to see how the MoUs regarding the use of F-16 have been adhered to or otherwise.”
With reference to repeated Indian claims about the shooting down of a Pakistan F-16 by India and use of F-16 in the air-battle, the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Public Relations, in a statement on Monday said, “No Pakistani F16 was hit by Indian Air Force… Later, when two Indian jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC), they were shot down by Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Whether it was F-16 or JF-17 which shot down two Indian aircraft is immaterial”.
It further said the PAF strike across the LoC “was done by JF-17 from within Pakistan airspace”.
India has maintained that F-16s were used by Pakistan during the aerial engagement with the Indian Air Force (IAF). India’s contention is that Pakistan had used AMRAAM missile during the dogfight which could only be loaded on an F-16 aircraft.
A day after Pakistan’s attempt to retaliate the Indian Air Force’s air strikes at a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot, the Indian armed forces displayed parts of an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) fired by an F-16, which fell in Indian territory. New Delhi had also underlined that electronic signatures captured by Indian radars had established the use of F-16 for the offensive.
New Delhi had also taken up the matter with Washington, pointing out that the defence systems exported by the US for offensive action against terrorists had been misused against India.
The US State Department announced that it was seeking more information from Pakistan on the potential use of American-made F-16 jets against India in violation of the end-user agreement.
Tensions between the two countries escalated after the February 14 Pulwama terror attack claimed by Pakistan-based JeM, that left over 44 CRPF personnel dead.