Pakistan's F-16 combat jets have all been accounted for, US -based Foreign Policy magazine said, citing USA officials, contradicting an Indian air force assessment that it had shot down one of the jets in February.
Foreign Policy said in a report published on Thursday two US defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said USA personnel had done a count of Pakistan's F-16s and found none missing. Time for India to speak truth about false claims & actual losses on their side including the second aircraft shot down by Pakistan.
The revelation built on a report published on the Foreign Policy magazine's website on Thursday, which stated that USA officials had conducted a count of Pakistan's F-16 jets and found that none were missing.
However, the defense official dismissing Indian point of view said the agreement did not involve any terms limiting the use of the F-16s. They say communication from one F-16 aircraft abruptly ended which they believe is further confirmation that one Pakistan Air Force jet did not return.
The IAF sources said that the F-16 aircraft was shot down 7-8 km inside Sabzkot in PoK.
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The count has been completed, and "all aircraft were present and accounted for", an unnamed official is quoted as saying. One was an IAF MiG 21 Bison and other a PAF aircraft. The Indian pilot was captured by Pakistan and later returned to India as a "peace gesture" by Islamabad to de-escalate the crisis between the two nuclear-armed nations.
The two unnamed officials, said to have direct knowledge of the situation, told the publication that USA personnel recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing.
He said that all four missile seeker heads were recovered intact from the wreckage of the downed Indian jet. When the count was finally conducted, all F-16s employed by the PAF were accounted for, FP reported.
"This is what Pakistan has been saying all along, the truth", said Pakistani military spokesperson Major-General Asif Ghafoor on Friday.
People familiar with the developments had later said that New Delhi had taken up the matter with the United States at various levels, urging Washington to seek an inventory of Pakistan's F-16 fleet.
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Pakistan Air Force's attempted a "reposte" on February 27 in an air raid that included F-16s, JF 17s and Mirage III/V and the aircraft were picked up by the IAF radars, the IAF stated.
"Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self defence", said a Pakistani military statement on the aerial engagement released on Monday.
"As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians", Narang said.
On February 28, in a rare tri-service press conference, Air Vice Marshal Kapoor had told reporters that some parts of the engines and drop tanks shown by Pakistan didn't belong to India's downed MiG-21, which confirmed that an F-16 was hit.
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The US endorsement of Pakistan's version will add insult to injury as the earlier Indian claim of decimating the "largest terrorist training camp" in the Balakot area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has already fallen flat.