IAF Group Captain Abhinandan awarded Vir Chakra for capturing down Pakistani F-16 plane

President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Vir Chakra to Wing Commander (now Group Captain) Varthaman Abhinandan for “showing conspicuous courage” whereas capturing down a Pakistani F-16 plane in February 2019. Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry medal after Param Vir Chakra and Maha Chakra.

Group Captain Abhinandan obtained the award on the Defence Investiture Ceremony on Monday on the Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh additionally attended the occasion.

The Vir Chakra quotation states, “Displaying exceptional air combat acumen and knowledge of the enemy’s tactics, (then) Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan scanned the low altitude airspace with his Airborne Intercept (AI) radar and picked up an enemy aircraft (Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft) that was flying low to ambush the Indian fighter interceptor aircraft.”

Group Captain Abhinandan went on to pursue a retreating enemy fighter bomber plane, and within the ensuing aerial fight, shot down an F-16 plane along with his on-board missile.

After his plane was shot down, Group Captain Abhinandan was pressured to eject in Pakistan territory. “Despite being captured by the enemy, he continued to display exceptional resolve in dealing with the adversary in a stoic brave and dignified manner till he was repatriated on 01 March 2019. His actions raised the morale of the armed forces in general and the IAF in particular,” the quotation reads.

The Pakistan Air Force’s retaliation in February 2019, got here after India’s strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist coaching camp in Balakot” following the Pulwama assault.

“Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan showed conspicuous courage, demonstrated gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal safety and displayed exceptional sense of duty,” the quotation additional provides.

Earlier this month, the Indian Air Force (IAF) authorized the rank of Group Captain for the Wing Commander.

President presents Shaurya Chakra to Sainik School alumnus Major Maheshkumar Bhure

At the ceremony on Monday, the President conferred the Shaurya Chakra gallantry award to Major Maheshkumar Bhure, who in 2018, led an operation killing six prime terrorist commanders in Jammu and Kashmir.

The award quotation reads, “(then) Captain Maheshkumar Bhure cordoned the target house and achieved complete surprise, thereby trapping the terrorists. The terrorists attempted to break the cordon in darkness by lobbing grenades and firing indiscriminately. As they ran towards his position, the officer retaliated with deadly accurate fire at close range, thereby killing a terrorist and forcing the other terrorists to retreat back.”

The Major hails from Maharashtra’s Osmanabad district and joined the military in 2014, PTI reported.