The US is dumping cold water on India's claim it shot down a Pakistani F-16
AP Photo/Anjum Naveed
- The US inspected Pakistan's fighter inventory after a dogfight in February in which India claimed one of its MiG-21 Bison aircraft shot down a Pakistani F-16, Foreign Policy reported.
- This news follows reports showing that India's air raid on targets in Pakistan was an embarrassing failure, as Indian pilots reportedly missed their targets.
- "As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians," one expert told Foreign Policy.
India proudly claimed one of its Russian-designed MiG-21 fighters shot down one of Pakistan's US-made F-16s before being downed by a Pakistani missile in a dogfight in February, but a US inventory of Pakistan's fighters shows nothing missing, Foreign Policy reported, citing US officials.
Tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals hit levels not seen in decades in February after Pakistan-based militants killed 40 Indian paramilitary police in a suicide bombing in India-controlled Kashmir.
In response, India conducted airstrikes on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, which is said to have retaliated by sending fighter jets into Indian airspace, forcing India to scramble its own fighters and igniting an aerial battle.
Pakistan shot down and captured Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who the Indian air force claimed scored a critical hit on a Pakistani F-16 before his MiG-21 Bison was taken out by an enemy missile.
The air raid already appeared to be an embarrassing failure. India claimed that it killed 300 terrorists with a surprise strike that saw 2000-pound bombs devastate the training center, but satellite imagery indicates India's aim was off.
"It does appear there was a strike in the vicinity of the camp, but it looks like it largely missed," Omar Lamrani, a military analyst at geopolitical consulting firm Stratfor told Business Insider in March.
Now it looks as though India's assertions that it shot down a Pakistani F-16 are also incorrect.
A senior US official told Foreign Policy's Lara Seligman that Pakistan invited the US to inspect its F-16 inventory after the fight with India.
The process took several weeks, but when everything was completed, "all aircraft were present and accounted for," the official said. These findings were confirmed by other US officials with knowledge of the count.
"As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians," Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told Foreign Policy.
Pakistan has consistently argued that Indian claims about the battle are inaccurate. In response the latest details, Pakistan demanded India come forward with the truth about what happened in February.
"This is what Pakistan has been saying all along, the truth," Pakistani military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said Friday. "It's time for India to come up with [the] truth."