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Pakistan changes stance on air engagement with India, says F-16s might have been used to hit Indian aircraft after initial denial

Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday for the first time indicated that F-16s might have been used to hit Indian fighter jets during the aerial combat on 27 February and said Islamabad retains the right to use "anything and everything" in its self defence.

Pakistan's military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor issued a statement with reference to what he said "repeated Indian claims" about shooting down of Pakistani F-16 by India and use of F-16 in the air battle on 27 February.

"As regard Pakistan Air Force (PAF) action for strikes across Line of Control, it was done by JF-17 from within Pakistan airspace," he said. Later, when two Indian jets crossed the Line of Control, they were shot down by the PAF, he claimed.

 Pakistan changes stance on air engagement with India, says F-16s might have been used to hit Indian aircraft after initial denial

Representational image. AFP

"Whether it was F-16 or JF-17 which shot down 2 Indian aircraft is immaterial," he said.

He further said: "Even if F-16 have been used as at that point in time complete PAF was airborne including F16s, the fact remains that Pakistan Airforce shot down two Indian jets in self defence."

Ghafoor said that Pakistan had right to use anything for its defence. "India can assume any type of their choice even F-16. Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self defence," he said.

He also rejected that any F-16 was destroyed by Indian Air Force in the dogfight. "The event of February 27 is part of history now. No Pakistani F-16 was hit by Indian Airforce," he said.

Last month, Ghafoor said that only JF-17 was used against India on 27 February.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the 14 February attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting what it said was a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an Indian pilot, who was handed over to India later.

India has raised objection over the use of F-16s by Pakistan during the aerial raid on 27 February and cited purchasing agreement between Washington and Islamabad.

As part of the purchasing agreement, the US had reportedly barred Pakistan from using the F-16s against any third country and it was only allowed to operate the fighter in self defence and for anti-terror missions.

India has also given proof to America about the use of US-manufactured F-16 jets and AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile by Pakistan during its aerial raid.

The IAF on 28 February displayed parts of an AMRAAM missile as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed F-16s during the aerial raid targeting Indian military installations in Kashmir. It said Pakistan does not have any other fighters capable of firing an AMRAAM missile.

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Updated Date: Apr 02, 2019 07:37:51 IST

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