In a show of strength, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Army and the Indian Navy jointly addressed the media in New Delhi and confirmed that the Pakistani Air Force tried to attack military establishments in Indian territory on Wednesday. Major General Surinder Singh Mahal, Navy Rear Admiral RS Gujral and Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor also presented the media with evidence of an air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) that the Pakistani F-16 aircraft dropped in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday.
“On February 27, Pakistani Air Force aircraft targeted military installations but were unable to cause any significant damage due to a swift response from the Indian Air Force. There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission through their electronic signatures. Parts of AMRAAM, air to air missile which is carried only on the Pakistani F-16s was recovered east of Rajouri within the Indian territory,” Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor stated.
Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor also stated that the Pakistani establishment has been making factually incorrect statements of the incidents of February 27. This includes initial claims by Pakistani military that 2 IAF aircraft had been shot down and 3 Indian pilots had been taken into custody. However, this was later revised to 1 IAF aircraft and 1 pilot.
The Air Vice Marshal also countered Pakistan’s denial that F-16 had not been used by the PAF. Three pieces of evidence were cited to support their statement that Pakistan had used F-16 aircraft in their offensive. The first was the electronic signature of the aircraft that India had picked up, the second was the remains of an air missile found in Rajouri sector in J&K. The only aircraft that Pakistan has to transport such a missile is the F-16, said the Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor.
The third evidence, he cited, was photographs of debris of aircraft emerging from Pakistan itself. While India had lost only one MiG-21 Bison aircraft, the photographs showed the wreckage of an F-16 jet.
He added that the Indian Air Force is happy and looks forward to the return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who is currently in the custody of the Pakistani Army and is scheduled to return to India on Friday. When asked by a reporter on whether India looked at Wing Commander Abhinandan’s return as a goodwill gesture, Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said, “We are happy that our pilot, who had fallen across the Line of Control and was in custody of Pakistan, is being released, we're extremely happy to have him back. We only see it as a gesture which is in consonance with all Geneva conventions.”
Major General Surendra Singh Wahal told the media that the Pakistani aircraft that invaded the Indian airspace on February 27 had tried to target a brigade headquarters, a battalion headquarters and a logistics installations. However, they were unable to cause any damage. He also added that the Pakistani Army has been violating ceasefire over the past two days and was responded to by the Indian the Army appropriately.
“We continue to maintain strict vigil. We are fully prepared and are ready to respond to any provocation,” Major General Wahal stated.
Heavy firing exchanges had taken place earlier in the day between the two armies in the same sector for one hour from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m on Thursday. At around 6 a.m, Pakistan initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by shelling mortars and firing from small arms along the Krishna Ghati sector, an Army spokesperson had stated.
Rear Admiral Dalbir Singh Gujral said, “Indian Navy is deployed in high state of readiness and remains poised in all three dimensions on the surface, under sea and in air, to deter and defeat any misadventure by Pakistan in the maritime domain."
At the end of the press conference, the media was shown pieces of evidence that were found in Indian territory – parts of the AMRAAM missile which was fired by the F-16 and fell in east Rajouri, Jammu and Kashmir.
“There is fairly credible evidence with us that there is massive damage to the JeM camp. Premature to say what is the number of casualties there. We destroyed what we intended to destroy,” said Air Vice Marshal Kapoor, adding, “The escalation has been done by Pakistan. If he provokes us further, we are ready to respond.”