Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of the Indian Air Force (IAF), who became the face of military confrontation between India and Pakistan, would be awarded the Vir Chakra, a gallantry award for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 during a dogfight over the Line of Control on February 27.
Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during the aerial combat. Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan.
Varthaman was released by Pakistan after being held captive for more than 60 hours. In his capture, Varthaman showed great courage and grace in handling the situation. His valiance was praised by all.
Vir Chakra is India’s third-highest wartime gallantry award, after the Param Vir Chakra and the Maha Vir Chakra.
Varthaman is currently recovering from ejection-related injuries and is likely to undergo a series of tests in the coming months before he is cleared to fly once again. He was earlier posted at the Srinagar air base with the air force’s No 51 squadron, also known as ‘Sword Arms’, but was then shifted to another base due to security reasons.
It is also being reported that five Mirage-2000 fighter pilots who dropped precision bombs on the terror camps of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, are also likely to be felicitated with the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry.
The Mirage pilots struck targets in Balakot with Israeli-origin Spice 2000 bombs with penetrator warheads that allowed them to pierce through the rooftops before exploding inside to cause maximum damage.
Source : Various