According to an MEA official, India has never changed its position that Pakistan has used F-16, which has been flagged to the United States.


New Delhi: Even as Pakistan has attempted a course correction to the narrative which it had been articulating over the use of F-16 fighter jet during the aerial dogfight on 27 February, Indian officials say that their stand has been consistent and the clarification whether and under what circumstances F-16 fighter jet was used should come from the United States.

According to a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official, India has never changed its position that Pakistan has used F-16, which has been flagged to the United States. “Now, whether and under what circumstances F-16 is or is not used is something which has to come from the United States,” he said.

“We have said from the beginning that Pakistan has used F-16. Our Foreign Secretary, who travelled to the US some time back, had informed the US about it. There was a statement which also came from the US on this matter. But I think our statement as the facts of the matter as far as we are concerned is that it was used and we understand that as per the understanding of use between Pakistan and US, it should not have been done. That is why we have flagged it to the US,” he said.

After the matter was flagged to the US, the US State Department said America was seeking more information from Pakistan on the potential misuse of American-made F-16 fighter jet by it against India in violation of the end-user agreement.

Sources said Islamabad had to tweak its stand this week in the face of mounting evidence with New Delhi and Washington which has nailed Pakistan’s claims. This week Pakistan, for the first time, indicated that F-16 might have been used to hit Indian fighter jets. So far, it had been denying that it had used the US-made F-16 during the 27 February dogfight.

There was a statement which was put out by the Pakistan ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) which said, for the first time, that F-16 was involved in the 27 February attack on India, but the F-16 was used for self-defence.

This is to be noted that, Pakistan has of late changed its stance on the issue, saying it had the right to use any fighter jet in its “legitimate self defence”. Pakistan had so far claimed that Islamabad had not used the US-manufactured F-16 fighter jet in its strike against India. It had also claimed that its fighter jets shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) jets. India had contested Islamabad on both these points.

The Pakistan’s ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) this week said: “Reference repeated Indian claims about shooting down of Pakistani F-16s by India and use of F-16 in air battle on 27 February. The event of 27 February is part of history now. No Pakistani F-16 was hit by Indian Air Force. As regards PAF action for strikes across LoC, it was done by JF 17 from within Pakistan airspace. Later when two Indian jets crossed LoC, they were shot down by PAF. Whether it was F-16 or JF 17 which shot down two Indian aircraft is immaterial. Even if F-16 has been used at that point in time, complete PAF was airborne including F-16s, the fact remains that Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian jets in self-defence. India can assume any type of their choice over F16. Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in legitimate self-defence.”

Soon after Pakistan’s attempt to retaliate the IAF’s air strike at terror camps in Balakot, the Indian armed forces displayed parts of AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) fired by an F-16, which fell in Indian territory. India also underlined that electronic signals captured by Indian radars had established the use of F-16.