With arms wide open, the Indian Air Force received Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman after he was released by Pakistan from captivity on Friday night. While welcoming him, the Air Force also posted a series of tweets that narrated the sequence of events of the dogfight during which a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet was shot down and the IAF also lost one of its MiG-21 Bison, an upgraded version of the Soviet-era combat jet.
In a series of tweets, the Air Force drew attention to its "diary of events" and gave an account of the air battle.
"On 27 Feb 19 at around 1000 hrs IAF radars detected a large package of PAF aircraft heading towards the Indian territory towards general area Jhangar. They breached the Indian airspace west of Rajauri in Sunderbani Area," the Air Force said.
"Ingressing aircraft were observed to be at various levels. IAF fighters including MiG-21Bison, Su-30MKI, Mirage-2000 were tasked to intercept the intruder. PAF aircraft attempting to target military installations, were intercepted by IAF fighters & thwarted their plans," it said.
Although PAF bombs have fallen in Indian Army Formation compounds however they were unable to cause any damage to our Military Installations.- Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) March 1, 2019
In the aerial combat that ensued one F-16 of PAF was shot down by an IAF MiG-21 Bison. The F-16 crashed and fell across the LOC. (3/5) pic.twitter.com/bP2hXnIDd4
"The IAF lost one MiG-21 in the aerial engagement & the Pilot ejected safely, his parachute drifted into POJ&K where he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army," it said.
Wing Commander Varthaman's homecoming, which inspired many hashtags on social media, was celebrated across the nation with politicians, celebrities and others saluting his grace and courage in the most dangerous circumstances.
The air strike by the IAF came over two weeks after 40 CRPF soldiers were killed in a suicide attack by a terrorist of Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose chief Masood Azhar is roaming freely in Pakistan.