Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, an IAF pilot, who shot to limelight earlier this year after he shot down a Pakistani F-16 during a dogfight on February 27 this year, is likely to be awarded the Vir Chakra as the Indian Air force has recommended the Wing Commander for India’s third highest wartime gallantry award. Indian pilots who shot down enemy fighters, in the past, were all given Vir Chakra medals.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was flying a vintage MiG-21 Bison when he shot down a Pakistani F-16. A MiG-21 Bison shooting down technologically superior F-16 fighter jet was compared to a Maruti 800 overtaking a Mercedes-Benz. In fact, the two fighters belong to different generations. Before this dogfight, it would have been difficult to even imagine that a MiG-21 could possibly shoot down an F-16. Therefore, IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman scripted history by scoring the first ever F-16 kill while flying a MiG-21 Bison. It must be noted Pakistan had violated India’s airspace on February 27, a day after the IAF had successfully bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed terror training camps situated in Balakot in Pakistan. Tensions were running high between the two countries at that time as Pakistan-sponsored Jaish e Mohammed (JeM), had orchestrated a cowardly terror attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama resulting in the death of at least 40 personnel from the CRPF.
Later, the IAF officer ejected after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down and was taken captive by Pakistan. However, Pakistan had to send him around three days after he was taken into captivity. Pakistan had stooped to a new low by releasing his video while he was still in captivity. The IAF pilot however maintained his calm and composure. He was praised by “politicians, strategic affairs experts, celebrities and the general public” for maintaining composure when Pakistan had released his video.
As per a News18 report, IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who is currently posted at the Suratgarh air base in Rajasthan and is in charge of administrative duties, will undergo a final medical test at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine based in Bengaluru. As per sources, he is likely to pass the test and as per News18 he will start flying the MiG-21 soon.
Apart from the Wing Commander, five pilots of the Mirage-2000 fighter jets, who had struck and successfully bombed the JeM terror training facility in Balakot will also be awarded the Vayu Sena Medal of gallantry. The country therefore braces itself to honour its bravehearts who took on terrorism and their facilitators.