US Counted Pakistan's F-16 Jets - and Found None Missing

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The Foreign Policy magazine, citing two unnamed senior USA defence officials with direct knowledge of situation, reported that recent American count of Pakistan's F-16 fighter jets found none missing. Generally in such agreements, the United States requires the receiving country to allow USA officials to inspect the equipment regularly to ensure it is accounted for and protected. On why the count had taken several weeks to conduct, the official said that several jets were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict. "Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate that the Pakistani aircraft was an F-16", the IAF statement said.

However, the first defense official said the agreement did not involve any terms limiting the use of the F-16s.

The findings, the magazine said, directly contradict the account of Indian Air Force (IAF) officials, who said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own plane was downed by a Pakistani missile.

The Indian Air Force reiterated on Friday that one of its MiG-21 planes had brought down an F-16 in the Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan denied at the time that this was the case and claimed to have shot down two Indian warplanes and captured one of their pilots. Even if F-16 have been used as at that point in time complete, (the) PAF was airborne, including F-16s.

The US' sale of F-16 jets in 2008 included 500 AIM-120-C5 AMRAAMS.

When the incident occurred, India asked the us government to investigate whether Pakistan's use of the F-16 against India violated the terms of the foreign military sale agreements.

He said that all four missile seeker heads were recovered intact from the wreckage of the downed Indian jet.

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A United States count of the F-16s with Pakistan has found that none of them are "missing" and all the fighter planes were "present and accounted for", according to a report in a prominent American magazine.

But that, by itself, does not offer any clues on whether Abhinandan Varthaman had shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16, as has been repeatedly claimed by the government and the IAF.

At 1520 hours, another intercept says that while one pilot is in custody, another has been sent to the military hospital.

The magazine said, India has once again misled the world through baseless and false claims.

In the dogfight Pakistan had also said it shot down two Indian planes, but India said that it lost only one aircraft.

In a statement, he said Pakistan had the right to use "anything and everything" in its self defence. To substantiate its claim, India has also displayed parts of the AAMRAM missile which could only be loaded in an F-16 aircraft and which fell in Indian territory during the aerial engagement.

"As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians", MIT professor Vipin Narang told Foreign Policy magazine.

The US endorsement of Pakistan's version will add insult to injury as the earlier Indian claim of decimating the "largest terrorist training camp" in the Balakot area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has already fallen flat. The surgical strike by India was in retaliation to the killing of over 40 Indian soldiers by a suicide bomber who claimed to be operating under instructions from the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group.

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