IAF's Abhinandan Varthaman who shot down Pak F-16 honoured with Vir Chakra

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Nov 22, 2021, 03:22 PM(IST)

President Kovind presents Vir Chakra to IAF's Abhinandan Varthaman Photograph:( ANI )

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Varthaman was given the gallantry award for his "exceptional sense of duty" during the aerial battle with Pakistani jets, a day after the Balakot airstrikes.

Indian Air Force Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman who had shot down a Pakistani F-16 in February 2019 during an air battle was honoured with the prestigious Vir Chakra by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday.

"President Kovind presents Vir Chakra to Wing Commander (now Group Captain) Varthaman Abhinandan. He showed conspicuous courage, demonstrated gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal safety and displayed exceptional sense of duty," the government said.

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The confrontation had taken place after Indian jets struck Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camps at Balakot leading the Pakistani Air Force to retaliate the next day.

Varthaman was given the gallantry award for his "exceptional sense of duty" during the aerial battle with Pakistani jets. The dogfight had taken place on February 27, 2019, as Pakistani jets tried to intrude into Indian territory. 

Varthaman's MiG-21 Bison intercepted Pakistan's F-16 and was involved in a dogfight. 

The citation said the Indian Air Force pilot "displayed exceptional air combat acumen and knowledge of the enemy's tactics" while "scanning 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."

His MiG-21 plane was hit by a missile and he ejected into POK. Varthaman's conduct during the capture was applauded at the ceremony for being "brave and dignified". 

Abhinandan Varthaman spent three days in captivity and was released by Pakistani authorities as he crossed the Wagah border into India.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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