NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s F-16 combat jets have all been accounted for, U.S.-based Foreign Policy magazine said, citing U.S. officials, contradicting an Indian air force assessment that it had shot down one of the jets in February, reports Reuters.
India and Pakistan engaged in an aerial battle over the disputed region of Kashmir a day after Indian jets crossed over into Pakistan to attack a suspected camp of anti-India militants.An Indian jet was brought down during the fight and its pilot captured when he ejected on the Pakistani side of the border. India said it, too, had shot down a Pakistani aircraft and the air force displayed pieces of a missile that it said had been fired by a Pakistani F-16 before it went down.
Foreign Policy said in a report published on Thursday two U.S. defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said U.S. personnel had done a count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing.
The F-16s are made by Lockheed Martin and, under an end-user agreement, the United States required the host country to allow for regular inspections to ensure they were accounted for and protected, Foreign Policy said.
“Truth always prevails,” Pakistan’s army spokesman said in a Tweet. “Time for India to speak truth about false claims & actual losses on their side.”
Details of the India-Pakistan air engagement have not been provided by either side. If the U.S. report turns out to be true, it would be a further blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that India had taught Pakistan a lesson.
The success of Indian air strikes on a camp of the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in northwestern Pakistan has also been thrown into doubt after satellite images showed little sign of damage.