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PAF's F-16 was shot down, asserts IAF; Refutes US media reports

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New Delhi, Apr 5: The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday refuted US media reports claiming that none of the PAF's F-16 fighters was downed after an aerial dogfight on February 27, and said "electronic signatures" gathered on that day indicate that F-16 went down.

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A US count of the F-16s with Pakistan has found that none of them are missing, contradicting India's claim that one of its fighter jets shot down a Pakistani F-16 during an aerial dogfight on February 27, a leading American magazine reported on Thursday.

"Indian Forces have confirmed sighting ejections at 2 different places on that day (Feb 27). The 2 sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km. One was an IAF MIG 21 Bison and other a PAF aircraft. Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate PAF aircraft was an F-16," ANI quoted IAF as saying today.

The ANI report further quoted a source as saying that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot down Pakistan Air Force F-16 aircraft 7-8 km inside Pakistan Occupied Area in Sabzkot area there.

[None of Pakistan's F-16 fighter jets missing after US count: Report]

Two senior US defence officials with direct knowledge of the situation told the Foreign Policy magazine that American personnel recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none of the planes missing.

"It is possible that in the heat of combat, Varthaman, flying a vintage MiG-21 Bison, got a lock on the Pakistani F-16, fired, and genuinely believed he scored a hit," the report said. The report said that evidence also suggests that Pakistan's F-16s were involved in the aerial battle with the Indian Air Force and only the F-16 can shoot a US-made AIM-120 air-to-air missile.

When the incident occurred, India asked the US government to investigate whether Pakistan's use of the F-16 against India violated the terms of the foreign military sale agreements. The Indian Air Force on February 28 displayed pieces of the AMRAAM missile, fired by a Pakistani F-16, as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during an aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir.

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