None of Pakistan's F-16 fighter jets missing after United States count

None of Pakistan's F-16 fighter jets missing after United States count

The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday contradicted a report by U.S. publication Foreign Policy that implied India had falsely claimed to have shot down a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 when fighter aircraft from the two sides clashed on February 27 over Jammu and Kashmir.

A USA count of Pakistan's F-16 jets revealed none to be missing, the US officials told Foreign Policy, undercutting India's position that its air force shot down a Pakistan Air Force jet in a clash that also led to the loss of a Soviet-era Indian Air Force MiG-21 Bison.

Pakistan, however, has consistently denied the Indian Air Force's claim, saying none of its aircraft were shot down during the weeks of tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries. One was an IAF MiG-21 Bison and the other a PAF aircraft. "This indicates that the PAF aircraft went down", a source said.

IAF sources said radio communication of Pakistan Air Force, intercepted by it, confirmed that one of the F-16s that attacked India on February 27 did not return to its base. Foreign Policy cites senior American defence officials as stating that USA personnel had "recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing".

"IAF claim of hitting F-16 by their Mig-21 before having been shot down by PAF gets exposed". He, however, said that Pakistani military had "more truth" to share in order to debunk the Indian claims of downing a Pakistani F-16 fighter.

Foreign Policy quoted one of the officials as saying that Pakistan invited the physically count its F-16 fleet, which are manufactured by USA firm Lockheed Martin.

The IAF sources said that the F-16 aircraft was shot down 7-8 km inside Sabzkot in PoK.

Initially Pakistan said it had captured two Indian pilots but the military later clarified it had just one pilot in custody, who was later released. The remnants of a USA -made AIM-120 air-to-air missile was found near the site; out of all the aircraft involved, only the F-16 can shoot such a weapon. Gen. Asif Ghafoor tweeted that "truth always prevails".

After the Pulwama suicide bombing by a young Muslim man born and bred in India-held Kashmir killed at least 40 paramilitary personnel on Feb 14 last and a claim of responsibility was purportedly made by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, India launched punitive air strikes against a JeM target, a madressah, in Pakistan's KP province on Feb 26.

Pakistan then claimed to have carried out a series of retaliatory air raids at sites adjacent to military targets in six locations of Indian-administered Kashmir, saying the attacks were meant to show resolve and not to cause any casualties or infrastructure damage. India can assume any type of their choice even F-16.

"The aircraft opposite Wg Cdr Abhinandan's area of engagement with Pakistanis were all F-16s and the package in the north was the JF-17s".

"All aircraft were present and accounted for", Foreign Policy quoted an unnamed United States official as saying following those inspections.

The news comes ahead of India's general elections in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking reelection.

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