Sources said the Pakistani jets targeted the Indian Army bases in Krishna Ghati and Nangi Tekri and an ammunition point in Narian.
Three Pakistani fighter jets entered into Indian air space at 9:58 AM on Wednesday targeting key military installations in Rajouri and Naushera in Jammu and Kashmir, as they sought to retaliate India’s pre-dawn counter-terror strike a day earlier deep inside Pakistan, official sources said. Though three Pakistani jets violated Indian air space, the package of the aircraft deployed by Pakistan Air Force for the operation was “significantly large” as it comprised a fleet of JF-17 and F-16 combat aircraft, the sources said.
Sources said the Pakistani jets targeted the Indian Army bases in Krishna Ghati and Nangi Tekri and an ammunition point in Narian. However, the bombs dropped by the Pakistani jets fell in un-inhabited areas. Minutes after Pakistani jets violated the Indian air space, the IAF’s Combat Air Patrol (CAP), comprising MiG-21 and other jets engaged with the enemy aircraft, successfully thwarting their attempts to bomb a number of key military installations in Naushera and Rajouri, they said.
In the ensuing engagement, a MiG-21 Bison of the IAF shot down a Pakistani jet, firing an R-73 air-to-air missile before being hit. It was not clear whether the IAF jet was fired from a Pakistani jet or was brought down by a missile attack by ground-based air defence, the sources said. They said the jet Pakistan lost was an F-16 aircraft. Pakistan has denied losing any jet.
India confirmed that an IAF pilot has been captured by Pakistan during the fierce engagement. IAF sources identified him as Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Sources said all Indian personnel, except one pilot, returned to their bases after the engagement ended at around 10:45 AM. The sources said that two parachutes were sighted — one was of the Indian pilot of the MIG-21 Bison and other was of the Pakistani pilot of the downed jet.
The Pakistani retaliatory strike came a day after Indian warplanes struck inside Pakistan for the first time since a 1971 war, destroying the biggest terrorist training camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Pakistan. The Indian air strike came after the February 14 terror attack carried out by the JeM in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.