India shoots down F16; loses MiG21

India shoots down F16; loses MiG21
Highlights

An IAF pilot was captured by Pakistan after an air combat on Wednesday during which the two sides said they shot down each others warplanes that followed an unsuccessful attempt to target Indian military installations in retaliatory strikes that sparked fears of war The aerial engagement between India and Pakistan for the first time since the 1971 war marked a dramatic escalation of confrontati

New Delhi: An IAF pilot was captured by Pakistan after an air combat on Wednesday during which the two sides said they shot down each other's warplanes that followed an unsuccessful attempt to target Indian military installations in retaliatory strikes that sparked fears of war. The aerial engagement between India and Pakistan for the first time since the 1971 war marked a dramatic escalation of confrontation prompting world leaders to urge the two neighbouring countries to exercise "utmost restraint".

A day after India bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed's(JeM) biggest training camp in Pakistan, it was a day of hectic developments moving with dizzying rapidity. Three Pakistani fighter jets entered Indian air space at 9:58 am to target key military installations in Rajouri and Naushera in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of the retaliatory strike, official sources said. India said it shot down a F-16 warplane of Pakistan while it lost a MiG 21 during the fierce engagement between the air forces of the two countries along the Line of Control (LoC).

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned the acting high commissioner of Pakistan Syed Haider Shah and demanded immediate and safe return of the pilot identified as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Pakistan detained the pilot following the aerial engagement in which a Pakistani jet, stated to be a F-16, was downed by Indian air defence forces in Jammu region's Rajouri sector. The IAF also lost a MiG 21 jet in the engagement, an Indian official said.

Pakistan has denied losing a jet. The Pakistan Army retracted its earlier statement that two IAF pilots were arrested. Later it said it had "only one" pilot in its custody. "There is only one pilot under Pakistan Army's custody. Wing Comd Abhi Nandan is being treated as per norms of military ethics," Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said. Though three Pakistani jets violated Indian air space, the package of the aircraft deployed by Pakistan Air Force for the operation was "significantly large" as it comprised a fleet of JF-17 and F-16 combat aircraft, the sources said.

The sources said the Pakistani jets targeted Indian army's bases in Krishna Ghati and Nangi Tekri and an ammunition point in Narian. However, the bombs dropped by the Pakistani jets fell in uninhabited areas. Minutes after Pakistani jets violated Indian air space, the IAF's Combat Air Patrol (CAP), comprising MiG-21 and other jets engaged with the enemy aircraft, successfully thwarting their attempts to bomb a number of key military installations in Naushera and Rajouri, they said.

Islamabad claimed it hit back at India by bringing down two Indian military aircraft, one of which crashed in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) while the other fell in Jammu and Kashmir. "This morning PAF (Pakistan Air Force) jets while remaining in Pakistani airspace engaged six targets across the LoC," Major General Asif Ghafoor told reporters in Islamabad.

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