Pakistan has admitted for the first time of having used F-16s in the February 27 air duel with IAF fighter jets, even as it claimed to having shot down two of Indian jets without losing any of its F-16s.
'We shot down two Indian jets in self-defence. India can assume any type of their choice, even F-16. Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self-defence,' the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter Service Public Relations said. Some weeks ago, Pakistan had said it had not used an F-16.
The Indian Air Force spokesperson, Group Captain Anupam Banerjee, dismissed the fresh claim, saying: 'We had (on February 27) lost only one fighter jet piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. The rest is a pack of lies.' On February 27, the IAF and Pakistan Air Force were locked in a duel over Nowshera in Jammu and kashmir.
A MiG-21 piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was lost, while the IAF shot down an F-16. On March 4, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, while speaking at a function at Sulur, Coimbatore, had said: 'Obviously, I think they have lost an F-16 aircraft in that combat.'
The Director General of Pakistan’s Inter Service Public Relations, in a statement today, said it was with reference to repeated Indian claims about the shooting down of a Pakistan F-16 and use of F-16 in an air battle on February 27.
'No Pakistani F16 was hit by Indian Air Force... Later, when two Indian jets crossed the Line of Control (LoC), they were shot down by Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Whether it was F-16 or JF-17 which shot down two Indian aircraft is immaterial,' the ISPR said.
As regards the PAF action across the LoC, it was done by JF-17 (a Chinese-origin plane) from within Pakistan airspace, the ISPR added.