Abhinandan Varthaman flies with IAF Chief: Details here
Wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who brought down an F-16 of Pakistan in February, flew with IAF Chief BS Dhanoa from the Pathankot airbase for some 30 minutes on Monday. This was Dhanoa's last sortie in a combat aircraft before he retires on September 30. Both officers took to the skies in the trainer version of MiG-21 type 69 fighter aircraft. Here are the details.
Varthaman downed F-16 jet, returned home with head held high
Varthaman was captured by Pakistan in February, a day after India carried out the risky Balakot operation to avenge the February 14 Pulwama attack. Flying MiG-21 Bison, a better version of the Russian legacy aircraft, Varthaman downed an F-16, which is more advanced as far as technology is concerned. He was released by Pakistan on March 1, and India welcomed its hero.
Dhanoa took the front seat, Varthaman sat on rear side
For today's sortie, Dhanoa took the front seat in the two-seated aircraft while Varthaman sat on the rear one. Interestingly, Dhanoa has flown in MiG-21 many times in the last couple of months. He led a four-aircraft 'Missing Man' formation to honor the soldiers who died in the 1999 Kargil War. India, elaborately, celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the war.
Here's a clip of the adventure
#WATCH IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa flew a sortie with Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman at Air Force Station Pathankot today in a MiG-21 trainer. It's the last sortie flown by IAF Chief in a fighter aircraft before retirement.They took off around 1130 hrs for a 30 min sortie. pic.twitter.com/retSoI3EVl— ANI (@ANI) September 2, 2019
We both ejected, we both fought Pakistan: Dhanoa
Speaking to ANI after the sortie, Dhanoa said he has many things in common with his junior. "We have got things in common - both of us ejected. Second, we both fought Pakistan. I fought during the Kargil war (he commanded IAF's 17 Squadron) and Abhinandan after the Balakot airstrike," he said. Interestingly, Dhanoa has also flown with Varthaman's father Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman.
Varthaman was debriefed, had to undergo medical tests too
To recall, after his homecoming, Varthaman had to undergo debriefing and medial tests before he got a green signal to fly. Debriefing means he was quizzed about the questions he was asked in Pakistan and the information he revealed. Last month, Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, declared him fit to fly after medical tests. He also had to go through a refresher course.
For utmost courage he displayed, Varthaman was awarded Vir Chakra
India duly awarded Varthaman for his service by awarding him the Vir Chakra, the third-highest wartime medal. Apart from Varthaman, Mirage-2000 pilots, who bombed Jaish-e-Mohammed's camp in Balakot, were given Vayu Sena medal. And Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal, who played the role of flight controller during the dogfight, was given Yudh Seva medal. She saw Varthaman script history by downing an F-16 jet.