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03 Jun, 2023
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Abhinandan Varthaman

Abhinandan Varthaman Awarded Vir Chakra For Shooting Down Pak’s F-16

On Monday, IAF fighter Abhinandan Varthaman received the prestigious Vir Chakra by the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, in an investiture ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Abhinandan Varthaman shot down the F-16 Pakistani fighter aircraft a day after the Balakot airstrike. Abhinandan struck down the F-16 during aerial combat that took place on 27th February. The Vir Chakra is the 3rd-highest Indian military honour after Param Vir Chakra and Maha Chakra. 

Abhinandan received the honour for demonstrating “conspicuous courage” and showing “gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal safety” along with an “exceptional sense of duty”. Abhinandan Varthaman was recently promoted to the rank of group captain. 

The story of Abhinandan Varthaman and F-16

On 26th February 2019, India had conducted an airstrike on Jaish-e-Mohammed’s (JeM) camp located at the Balakot, Pakistan. While confirming the airstrike, the Indian Air Force stated that it was a retaliatory action to the Pulwama attack and claimed that the airstrike was non-military and preemptive, done only to target JeM camps within Pakistan. However, on the very next day, i.e. 27th February 2019, a large force of the Pakistani Air Force fighter aircraft consisting of fourth-generation F-16 and F-17 were detected near the Line of Control (LoC) at 9:55 am. 

After a few minutes, wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman intercepted the Pakistani fighter jets and scanned the low altitude airspace with the AI radar of his MiG-21 Bison and detected an enemy aircraft flying low. In no time, Abhinandan informed other pilots about the surprise threat and gathered for an offensive formation against the Pakistani fighter jet, and the enemy jet had to turn back. However, Abhinandan Varthaman pursued the F-16 jet and shot it down with his missile. During the aerial combat, Abhinandan’s MiG-21 Bison was hit by the enemy. 

Abhinandan Varthaman In Pakistan

After multiple advanced BVR missiles were fired, MiG-21 Bison was hit, and Abhinandan was ejected into the enemy territory, where he was captured by the Pakistani army in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). A video was also released by the Pakistani military showing blindfolded Abhinandan Varthaman telling his name and his service number. However, he was repatriated to India on 1st March 2019. 

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