Foreign Policy magazine reported that the US has counted Pakistan’s F-16s, and found that all of them are ‘present and accounted for’

New Delhi: Top government sources Friday insisted that Pakistan did lose an F-16 in the 27 February air battle in the Nowshera sector, despite a prominent American magazine saying otherwise.

According to Foreign Policy, a US count of Pakistan’s F-16s has reportedly found that none of them are “missing”, and all are “present and accounted for”.

The finding by the US on the ground in Pakistan “directly contradicts” India’s claim that its air force shot down an F-16 during the dogfight over Jammu and Kashmir.

“This was on expected lines. Do you think that the US will ever accept that an F-16 was shot down by a vintage Russian MiG-21 Bison?” a source told ThePrint.

Multiple sources said there is electronic and physical evidence to corroborate the fact that F-16s were indeed used by Pakistan.

“The F-16s are the most sold American fighter aircraft in the world now. They are also in contention for the 114 fighter jets order from the IAF. So, how can they really admit that their aircraft was shot down?” another source said.

Enough Evidence

Sources pointed out that Pakistan had, on the first day, claimed that two aircraft were shot down, and also that one pilot was in custody, another in hospital, and it was looking for a third pilot.

“India accepted that one MiG-21 Bison was shot down and its pilot is in Pakistani custody. What about the second aircraft and the two pilots that Pakistan military and the Prime Minister Imran Khan had claimed was in their custody?” asked the second source cited above.

The Indian Air Force on 28 February displayed pieces of the AMRAAM missile fired by a Pakistani F-16 as evidence to “conclusively” prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16s in its raid targeting Indian military installations.

Addressing a rare tri-service press conference on 28 February, Air Vice Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor had told reporters: “There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission through their electronic signatures. Parts of the AMRAAM air-to-air missile, which is carried only on the F-16s, was recovered east of Rajouri within Indian territory.”

Kapoor also said the Pakistan media had shown parts of the engines and drop tanks that didn’t belong to India’s downed MiG-21, which confirmed that the F-16 was shot.

However, according to Foreign Policy, Pakistan invited the United States to physically count its F-16s as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalised.

“A US count of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet has found that all the jets are present and accounted for, a direct contradiction to India’s claim that it shot down one of the fighter jets during a February clash,” Lara Seligman reported in the magazine Thursday, quoting an unnamed defence official.