U.S. count found no Pakistan F-16 jet missing

Posted April 06, 2019

Hours after USA defence officials confirmed none of the F-16 jets in the Pakistani Air Force fleet was missing, the chief spokesperson of Pakistan Army on Friday further tore apart Indian claims of downing a PAF fighter jet in the February dogfight.

"US personnel recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing", the report said.

The findings directly contradict the account of Indian Air Force officials, who said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own plane was downed by a Pakistani missile.

U.S. and Pakistan have an end-user agreement over the F-16s, which allows the United States to inspect the fighter jets so that they are "accounted for and protected", the report said quoting an official.

The revelation runs counter to the Indian Air Force's (IAF) persistent claim that its MiG-21 Bison had fired at, and shot down, a Pakistani F-16 before being shot down itself.

"All aircraft were present and accounted for", the report quoted one of the official as saying. One was an IAF MiG-21 Bison and the other a PAF aircraft.

Pakistan denied at the time that this was the case and claimed to have shot down two Indian warplanes and captured one of their pilots.

The two unnamed officials, said to have direct knowledge of the situation, told the publication that United States personnel recently counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing.

But now the count has been completed, and "all aircraft were present and accounted for", the official said.

According to an IAF statement, the fighter jet was shot down in the Nowshera sector in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. "Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate that the PAF aircraft was F-16", he said.

All four missile seeker heads recovered from wreckage of downed Indian Mig-21 are still intact and held by the security forces, Major General Asif Ghafoor, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general said in a statement on Twitter.

The US Department of Defence did not immediately respond to a question on its count of F-16 fighter jets in Pakistan. When the count was finally conducted, all F-16s employed by the PAF were accounted for, FP reported.

IAF said the Pakistani military communication and the initial statements also suggest that they had lost one aircraft which they claimed to be that of IAF. "Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self defence", it had added.

The Pakistani air raid on an Indian military establishment was foiled due to the preparedness and presence of mind of a woman officer from the Indian Air Force (IAF), as per a media report.

Tensions between India and Pakistan spiralled in the wake of the 14 February suicide attack in Kashmir's Pulwama region, in which a convoy carrying Indian paramilitary personnel was targeted by a suicide bomber.

"As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians", MIT professor Vipin Narang told Foreign Policy magazine.

In response, India said it carried out on February 26 air strikes on what it called a militant training camp at Balakot inside Pakistan.