IAF Group Capt Abhinandan Varthaman awarded Vir Chakra for shooting down Pakistan’s jet in 2019

Indian Air Force Wing Commander (now Group Captain) Abhinandan Varthaman was awarded the Vir Chakra on Monday (November 22, 2021) by President Ram Nath Kovind for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft aerial combat on February 27, 2019. In 2019, Abhinandan Varthaman had found himself in the middle of a ruthless battle with a Pakistani fighter jet, amid the aerial conflicts that were underway between Indian and Pakistan, following Pulwama attack, that year.

Abhinandan shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft during aerial combat on February 27 a day after the Balakot airstrike. In the process, he flew over Pakistan occupied Kashmir and his MiG-21 was hit and he had to eject over the territory controlled by the enemy.

He was then taken into custody by the Pakistan Army. The Pakistan Army was forced to release him due to the extensive pressure exerted by the Indian side along with international intervention into the matter. Abhinandan was part of the Srinagar-based 51 squadron and had flown to thwart an aerial attack launched by the Pakistanis on February 27, 2019.