US Finds No Pakistani F-16 Missing

US Finds No Pakistani F-16 Missing

US Finds No Pakistani F-16 Missing

India's statement that its air force shot down one of Pakistan's US -built F-16 aircraft during a military flareup in late February appears untrue, according to a report by Washington, D.C. -based Foreign Policy magazine, which cited two USA defense officials it didn't identify.

"Generally in such agreements, the U.S. requires the receiving country to allow USA officials to inspect the equipment regularly to ensure it is accounted for and protected", said the report. The Indian Air Force had said that Pakistan did not possess any other fighter aircraft in its inventory other than the F-16 that was capable of firing an AMRAAM missile. It is reported further that electronic signatures gathered indicate that the PAF jet was a F-16.

"During the engagement, one MiG 21 Bison of IAF shot down an F16 in Nowshera sector", the IAF said in a press statement.

Finally, the sources cited radio intercepts that indicated that one Pakistani F-16 fighter stopped transmitting abruptly, suggesting it had crashed. "This indicates that the PAF aircraft went down", a source said.

But on April 1, Pakistan military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor for the first time indicated that F-16s might have been used to hit Indian fighter jets during the aerial combat on February 27.

Initially Pakistan said it had captured two Indian pilots but the military later clarified it had just one pilot in custody, who was later released. One crashed on Pakistani soil, while the other managed to return to Indian-occupied Kashmir. The sources argue that this could only have been a Pakistani F-16, since the PAF's other fighters - JF-17 Thunder and Mirage III/V - were elsewhere in the battlespace.

According to Foreign Policy, one of the senior U.S. defence officials with direct knowledge of the count said that Pakistan invited the USA to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalized.

What is more, the spokesman said that India had "flagged" the incident to the United States and is now awaiting a response from Washington to clarify whether Pakistan was allowed to use the jets in the February incident or not.

Pakistan has been denying India's claims that F-16s were used in the combat.

After the Pulwama suicide bombing by a young Muslim man born and bred in India-held Kashmir killed at least 40 paramilitary personnel on Feb 14 last and a claim of responsibility was purportedly made by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, India launched punitive air strikes against a JeM target, a madressah, in Pakistan's KP province on Feb 26. To substantiate its claim, India has also displayed parts of the AAMRAM missile which could only be loaded in an F-16 aircraft and which fell in Indian territory during the aerial engagement.

Now New Delhi, which accidentally shot down one of its own helicopters during the skirmish, has argued its pilot claimed one of Islamabad's F-16s during the dogfight.

Related news