India didn’t shoot down Pakistan’s F-16, US magazine says

Pakistani F-16 fighter perform during a Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2018. (Bloomberg pic)

NEW DELHI: India’s statement that its air force shot down one of Pakistan’s US-built F-16 aircraft during a military flareup in late February appears untrue, according to a report by Washington, DC-based Foreign Policy magazine, which cited two US defence officials it didn’t identify.

A US count of Pakistan’s F-16 jets revealed none to be missing, the US officials told Foreign Policy, undercutting India’s position that its air force shot down a Pakistan Air Force jet in a clash that also led to the loss of a Soviet-era Indian Air Force MiG-21 Bison.

The aerial clash over Kashmir followed an Indian air strike on what New Delhi said was a terrorist training facility inside Pakistani territory.

Islamabad has said consistently that it did not lose an F-16, that it had deployed JF-17 jets jointly built with China against India and that it had destroyed two Indian aircraft, as opposed to the one downed jet India has confirmed.

“No Pakistani F16 was hit by Indian airforce,” a statement from Pakistan’s military released Monday reads.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar did not immediately respond to a phone call and text messages for comment on Friday.

In a previous statement in early March, Kumar had said “there are eye-witness accounts and electronic evidence that Pakistan deployed F-16 aircraft and that one F-16 was shot down” by an Indian pilot.