The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has unveiled the wreckage of Indian Air Force’s (IAF) MiG-21 Bison that was shot down by Pakistan on February 27, 2019, contradicting Indian claims of shooting down a Pakistani F-16 aircraft.
The PAF’s Director Media Affairs flanked by Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Planning) Air Commodore Syed Omar Shah gave a detailed briefing to the media on the victory of “Operation Swift Retort” here at the Air Headquarters.
He also showed the missiles of MiG-21 Bison recovered from the wreckage of IAF fighter being piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan and shot down by the PAF fighter jets during the dogfight on February 27 last year.
Air Commodore Syed Omar Shah said the MiG-21 Bison was equipped with two R-73 Archer missiles and two R-77 Adder missiles on its left and right wings, which were never fired. Since the aircraft after being hit fell on the left side that completely damaged the two missiles attached on the left wing.
The two R-73 Archer and R-77 Adder missiles, which attached on the right wing of MiG-21, were recovered almost intact from the aircraft’s wreckage whereas the left wing missiles were damaged, particularly the R-77 Adder whose rocket motor got burnt under the rubble, he added.
Air Commodore Shah noted that after analysis of the recovered missiles it was found that none of them was fired, rejecting the claim of IAF that Wing Commander Abhinandan had fired a R-73 Archer missile at the PAF jet before his aircraft was shot down.
“The rocket motor has been found attached with the missile launcher that clearly proves that the MiG-21 piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan did not fire any of its missiles and inflicted no damage on the PAF aircraft,” he maintained.
The Operation Swift Retort, he said, would be remembered as a “chronicle of valour and heroism”, which gave a message to the international community that their quest for peace should not be misconstrued by the enemy as their weakness.
He said though the independent sources had also denied the IAF’s claims of shooting down PAF’s F-16 fighter plane yet Wing Commander Abhinandan was awarded the highest military award by the Indian government. Moreover, the IAF chief’s claim of hitting an F-16 with a R-73 Archer missile was a question mark on the professionalism of his force, he added.
Air Commodore Shah said when the IAF tried to violate Pakistan’s airspace it was “unilaterally perceived to be challenging the sovereignty of Pakistan”. In response to the the IAF’s violation of Pakistan’s airspace, four key targets had been locked, including Headquarters 80 Brigade Punch Sector, Headquarters 120 Brigade and two others. The PAF’s swift operation had surprised the IAF as they were unable to respond, he added.
He said the main reason behind a year-long delay in making public the wreckage of MiG-21 Bison was a war-like situation which prevailed at the time of dog-fight.
The PAF pilots avoided to hit the locked targets due to the rules of engagement decided by the country’s leadership, he added.
Earlier, Pakistan had announced to celebrate ‘Surprise Day’ on February 27 as a tribute to the retaliatory attack by the PAF after India’s Balakot airstrike.