As we have reported, on Feb. 26, 2019 Indian Air Force (IAF) Mirage 2000 fighter jets launched airstrikes across Indian border with Pakistan against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group which conducted a terror attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian troops.
The tension between the two nuclear neighbors raised since a suicide car bombing by JeM militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir which killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police on Feb. 14.
After IAF airstrikes Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) and Spokesperson for Pakistan Army Major General Asif Ghafoor said that “We will respond differently and we will surprise you (India). I said that we will surprise you. Wait for that surprise. I said that our response will be different. See it for yourself. The response will come, and response will come differently.”
The following day, Feb. 27, Pakistan claimed that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has shot down two IAF fighter jets that crossed into Pakistani territory.
On the same day instead IAF claimed that one of its MiG-21 Bison fighter jets had shot down a Pakistani F-16 that “violated Indian airspace” and has lost only one MiG-21 Bison jet on the same day.
Now an interesting article appeared on The Telegraph provides some details about this air engagement:
‘When Wing Commander Abhinandan Vartaman of the Indian Air Force (IAF) spotted the enemy plane on his radar 7,000 feet below him he had little hesitation. ‘Locking onto the Pakistani F-16 jet launching a provocative cross-border missile raid over Kashmir he told his patrol partners: “I am going after him.”
‘Vartaman’s objective was to position himself at an angle of 60 degrees in relation to the F-16 in his sights, an ‘angle of attack’ that would enable him to execute a ‘maximum impact’ missile strike, the sources said.
‘In the meantime, the F-16 went into a steep ascent, climbing to around 26,000 feet before hurtling back down in a move to shake off his pursuer. ‘Flying at a speeds of over 560mph, the PAF pilot repeated this manoeuvre, by which time Varthaman had managed to adroitly position his MiG-21 behind the F-16, sources revealed.
‘Having secured a hugely advantageous position, the IAF pilot successfully fired his Russian short-range Vympel R-73 air-to-air missile at the F-16, scoring a hit !!
‘But within moments Varthaman’s fighter was incapacitated by one or possibly even two all-weather air-to-air missiles, forcing him to eject and parachute down.’
Noteworthy what happened brought the region’s two nuclear powers to the brink of conflict and sent shock waves across the region. It in fact was the first time the nations had engaged in aerial combat since war in 1971 and the world held its breath.
As of 2019, 113 MiG-21s are known to be operational with the IAF in the role of interceptor aircraft. However, the plane has been plagued by safety problems: in fact at least 14 MiG-21s have crashed between 2010 and 2013. Nevertheless their phase-out date has been postponed several times. Initially set for 2014-2017, it was later postponed to 2019. Currently phase-out is scheduled for 2021-2022.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force, Indian Air Force
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