Two new patches of distinction to honor the downing of a Pakistani F-16 by Indian MIG-21s in a tense dogfight in February have been awarded to the Indian Air Force’s 51st Squadron – even though Islamabad firmly denies the loss.
The first patch depicts a MIG-21 Bison as the centerpiece with a red-colored F-16 in crosshairs in the background. ‘AMRAAM Dodger’ is written on the top of the artwork with ‘Falcon Slayer’ inscribed at the bottom. The other patch portrays an SU-30 dodging AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) used on F-16 jets.
Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman’s unit is using new patch showcasing his bravery by calling itself the ‘Falcon Slayer’ for striking down a Pak F-16 during Feb 27 aerial battle. Unit also calls itself AMRAAM dodgers as MiG-21 evaded 4-5 AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles fired by Pakistani F-16 pic.twitter.com/qbple7edJW
— ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2019
“Patches instill a sense of pride in not only the present generation of pilots but also future ones. It gives a sense of achievement to the pilot,” Group Captain Anupam Bannerjee said.
The dogfight between Indian and Pakistani warplanes over the contested border region of Jammu and Kashmir erupted on February 27, following the IAF’s raid on Balakot a day earlier. The raid penetrated deep inside Pakistani territory to strike a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) camp in retaliation for a terrorist attack on Indian paramilitary forces in the disputed region.
While India lost one of its aircraft in the fight, New Delhi said that hero Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the 51st Squadron managed to shoot down one of the PAF’s F-16 jets before he was shot down and captured. Pakistan, however, vehemently denies the loss, claiming it didn’t even use the US-supplied plane during the sortie. “No Pakistani F-16 was hit by Indian Air Force,” Pakistan’s military insists.
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