Indian officials insist that they downed a Pakistani F-16 on the 27th of February, but a count of the aircraft contradicts this claim.
India has provided no hard evidence to back the claim. It is understood that American defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said US personnel had done a count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing.
A report from Foreign Policy, citing top military officials, has confirmed that all of Pakistan’s F-16s are accounted for. The report states:
“The findings directly contradict the account of Indian Air Force officials, who said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own plane was downed by a Pakistani missile.
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. But the count, conducted by U.S. authorities on the ground in Pakistan, sheds doubt on New Delhi’s version of events, suggesting that Indian authorities may have misled the international community about what happened that day.”
India and Pakistan had earlier engaged in aerial conflict over the disputed region of Kashmir after Indian jets crossed over into Pakistan to attack a suspected camp of militants.
Given America’s pivot towards India, it is noteworthy that the United States felt the need to counter this claim.