DOUBTS have been cast over India’s version of an incident involving a Pakistan fighter jet as US officials have been cited as saying that Pakistan’s F-16s are all accounted for.
India and Pakistan engaged in an aerial battle over Kashmir a day after Indian jets crossed over the de factor border to attack a suspected camp of anti-India militants.
An Indian jet was brought down during the fight and its pilot captured when he ejected on the Pakistani side of the border. India said it, too, had shot down a Pakistani aircraft and the air force displayed pieces of a missile that it said had been fired by a Pakistani F-16 before it went down.
However, Foreign Policy said in a report published yesterday (4) that two US defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said US personnel had done a count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing.
“Truth always prevails,” Pakistan’s army spokesman said in a Tweet. “Time for India to speak truth about false claims & actual losses on their side.”
The Indian Air Force (IAF) reiterated today (5) that one of its MiG-21 planes had brought down an F-16 in the Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
Two combat planes went down that day, one was an Indian and the other belonged to Pakistan air force (PAF) the IAF said in a statement.
“The Indian Force have confirmed sighting ejections at two different places on that day. The two sightings were at places separated by at least 8-10 km,” it said.
“One was an IAF Mig 21 Bison and the other a PAF aircraft. Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate that the PAF aircraft was an F-16,” the air force said.
The F-16s are made by Lockheed Martin and, under an end-user agreement, the United States required the host country to allow for regular inspections to ensure they were accounted for and protected, Foreign Policy said.
Foreign Policy said Pakistan had invited US officials to physically count the F-16 planes after the incident.
Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took US personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets, one of the officials was quoted as saying.
The count had now been completed and all aircraft “were present and accounted for”, the official was quoted as saying.
There are no official figures from Pakistan on how many F-16s it has but reported estimates place the number between 70 and 80.