New Delhi: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistani F-16 on February 27, was conferred the Vir Chakra, India’s third-highest wartime gallantry medal, on Wednesday.
The Indian Air Force’s five Mirage 2000 fighter pilots who bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s terror training camp at Balakot in Pakistan have been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal. These fighter pilots are Wg Cdr Amit Ranjan, Sqn Ldr Rahul Basoya, Sqn Ldr Pankaj Bhujade, Sqn Ldr B. Karthik Narayan Reddy and Sqn Ldr Shashank Singh. The IAF has overall got 13 gallantry awards (12 flying pilots) mostly for their role during the Balakot attack and for repulsing the Pakistan Air Force attack the next day.
Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal, a woman officer who played a key role as flight controller during the aerial combat between India and Pakistan on February 27, has been awarded Yudh Seva medal.
Seven IAF officers have been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) and five the Yudh Seva Medal.
The MiG-21 Bison piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman had chased and shot down a F-16 which fell into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on February 27.
Pakistan Air Force fighters entered India’s airspace after the IAF carried out an airstrike on the Jaish camp at Balakot. During the chase, Wing Commander Varthaman’s MiG-21 also got hit and he had to eject in PoK. Pakistan PM Imran Khan announced the next day that he would be released on March 1 as a “peace gesture”.