A U.S. 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 Foreign Policy magazine.
India had claimed that its Air Force shot down an F-16 fighter jet during a dogfight on February 27.
The U.S. Department of Defence, however, did not immediately respond to a question on the issue.
The Indian Air Force, on February 28, displayed pieces of an AMRAAM missile fired by a Pakistani F-16 as evidence to “conclusively” prove that Pakistan deployed the U.S.-manufactured F-16s to target Indian military installations in Kashmir.
Pakistan had denied that one of its F-16s had been downed by the Indian Air Force.
The magazine said Pakistan invited the U.S. to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalised.
“A U.S. count of Pakistan’s F-16 fleet has found that all the jets are present and accounted for, a direct contradiction to India’s claim that it shot down one of the fighter jets during a February clash,” Lara Seligman of the magazine reported on Thursday.
“As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians,” MIT professor Vipin Narang told the magazine. “It looks increasingly like India failed to impose significant costs on Pakistan, but lost a plane and a helicopter of its own in the process,” he said.
Generally, in such agreements, the U.S. requires the receiving country to allow its officials to inspect the equipment regularly to ensure it is accounted for and protected, the news report said.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after a suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14.
India launched a counter-terror operation against a JeM training camp in Balakot. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated. A MiG-21 of India went down and its pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured. He was handed over to India on March 1.