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Vir Chakra recommended for Air Force pilot

April 22, 2019

The Indian Air Force has recommended the wartime gallantry medal Vir Chakra for Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for shooting down an F-16 in aerial conflict with Pakistan.

Along with Wing Commander Abhinandan, 12 Mirage 2000 pilots who bombed targets in Pakistan are being recommended for the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry for their acts of bravery.

The Vir Chakra is among the top three gallantry awards in the military during war times. The others are Param Vir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.

Concerned about Wing Commander Abhinandan's security, the Air Force has posted the fighter pilot from Srinagar to another important air base along the Pakistan border.

Speaking to the media, government sources said the "posting order of the officer has been issued and he would soon be moving out of the Srinagar air base to his new place of posting". The name of the new airbase is being kept a secret for reasons of security.

Wing Commander Varthaman was shot down after he crossed into Pakistan administered Kashmir. Though he bailed out safely, he landed in territory under Pakistani control and was captured by Pakistani forces. He was later handed over to India after which he was admitted to a military hospital for a check up into possible injuries sustained during his bail out from his aircraft. He also underwent many rounds of debriefing by Indian intelligence agencies.

He was then sent on leave for three weeks after which he had joined duty in March.

Wing Commander Abhinandan has the unique distinction of being the only pilot in the world to have shot down an F-16 combat aircraft from his old MiG-21 Bison aircraft in February this year during aerial conflict with Pakistan.

Pakistan has been very upset over the shooting down of its missiles and there were concerns over his security in Srinagar due to the presence of Pakistan-backed terrorist groups in the Kashmir valley.

Last week, Wing Commander Abhinandan underwent medical tests at a Delhi-based facility for becoming eligible to fly the MiG-21s again. He has flown different types of fighter aircraft in the Air Force.



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