Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down Pakistani jet, conferred Vir Chakra
Indian Air Force Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman on Monday received the Vir Chakra from President Ram Nath Kovind. Vir Chakra is the third-highest wartime Indian military honor after Param Vir Chakra and Maha Chakra. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were also present at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi for the event. Here are more details on this.
Varthaman displayed 'exceptional air combat acumen'
"Displaying exceptional air combat acumen and knowledge of the enemy's tactics, Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan scanned the low altitude airspace with his Airborne Intercept (Al) radar and picked up an enemy aircraft that was flying low to ambush the Indian fighter interceptor aircraft," the citation for Varthaman's Vir Chakra read. The award for the officer was announced in August 2019.
Varthaman had downed Pakistani jet in 2019
Varthaman, then a Wing Commander, had shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet on February 27, 2019, a day after the Balakot air strike by India. Thereafter, his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down and he was captured by the Pakistani Army. Pakistan was forced to release him on March 1 of that year following pressure from the Indian side and the international community.
Incident occurred in the aftermath of Balakot strike
IAF fighter jets had bombed the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's training camps in Balakot, Pakistan on February 26, nearly two weeks after the Pulwama terror attack. The Pulwama attack had taken place on February 14, 2019 and claimed the lives of 40 Indian soldiers. Pakistan had retaliated against the Balakot strike on February 27 by attempting to hit Indian military installations.
Who is Abhinandan Varthaman?
Varthaman, 38, hails from Tamil Nadu's Tiruvannamalai district. He is an alumnus of the Khadakwasla-based National Defence Academy (NDA). He was a Sukhoi-30 fighter pilot before being shifted to the MiG-21 Bison squadron. He was promoted to the rank of Group Captain earlier this month. The rank is equivalent to that of a Colonel in the Indian Army.