Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft after Balakot airstrike, receives Vir Chakra

India had launched an aerial strike on a reported Pakistani terrorist facility in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area of Balakot, run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) on February 26.

Varthaman was part of the Srinagar-based 51 squadron and had flown to thwart an aerial attack launched by the Pakistanis on February 27, 2019. He shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft during aerial combat on February 27 a day after the Balakot airstrike.

Varthaman’s citation read, “Displaying exceptional air combat acumen and knowledge of the enemy’s tactics, Abhinandan scanned the low altitude airspace with his airborne intercept (AI) radar and picked up an enemy aircraft that was flying low to ambush the Indian fighter interceptor aircraft.

Abhinandan alerted the other formation pilots towards this surprise threat.”

Abhinandan Varthaman was recently promoted to the rank of Group Captain. equivalent to the Colonel in the army.

Abhinandan Varthaman was taken into custody by the Pakistan Army, after being taken down by the Pakistan Air Force. The Pakistan Army was forced to release him due to the extensive pressure exerted by India.

Vir Chakra is India’s third highest wartime gallantry award after Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra.

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