Almost two months after India asked the US to examine Pakistan’s use of F-16 jets on February 27 in retaliation to the Balakot strike, News18 has learned that a US investigation is still underway on the use of the military equipment.
This is contrary to the claims made in a report by a prominent American magazine which said none of the F-16 jets in Pakistan were “missing” and all the fighter planes were “present and accounted for”.
The US has been tight-lipped on the issue, merely reiterating that as a matter of policy it does not publicly comment on the contents of bilateral agreements involving US defence technologies. This essentially means that it will not publicly disclose what the agreement with Pakistan on the use of F-16s says.
India in a statement on March 9 had said, “We have asked the United States to also examine whether the use of F-16 against India is in accordance with the terms and conditions of sale.” It had further said there were eyewitness accounts and electronic evidence to prove that Pakistan had deployed F-16 aircraft and one of them was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan. “Evidence of the use of AMRAAM missile, which can only be deployed on the F-16 with Pakistan, has also been shown to the media,” said the statement.
The IAF in the statement said that a day after the Balakot attack, a large force of the Pakistan Air Force, which included F-16s, JF-17s and Mirage III/V aircraft, were picked up by the IAF radars.
Pakistan, on the other hand, has been saying that India has made a false claim of shooting down an F-16. Statements claiming that the AMRAAM shown was Taiwanese was denied by Taiwan. The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense in a press release had said that the weapon did not come from the lot sold by the US to Taiwan. It also added that it was not allowed to transfer equipment to a third country without the consent of the US.
Pakistan had said JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft, developed jointly with China, was used in retaliation to India’s pre-emptive strikes on a JeM terror camp in Balakot.