New Delhi: The five Mirage 2000 pilots, who had snuck deep into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) on the morning of 26 February and struck Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in Balakot with Spice 2000 bombs, have been awarded Vayu Sena medals.
Besides, Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has got Vir Chakra — the third highest gallantry award in the military after the Param Vir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.
Top sources in the defence establishment told ThePrint the IAF has got a total of 13 awards, including eight gallantry awards, for the Balakot strike and for foiling an attempt by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to hit back on 27 February.
The awardees include Squadron Leader Minty Aggarwal, a female officer, who steered the dog fight over the Nowshera sector and alerted the IAF pilots to the presence of Pakistan’s F-16s with AMRAAM missiles.
Sources said Wing Commander Amit Ranjan, Squadron Leaders R. Basoya, P.A. Bhujade, B.K.N. Reddy and Shashank Singh were awarded the Vayu Sena medals (gallantry) for their operation, which caught Pakistan by surprise.
Also read: Pakistan subjected Wing Commander Abhinandan to loud music & bright lights to break him
Yudh Seva medal for Squadron Leader Minty Aggarwal
Sources said the aircraft went as deep as 15 km into PoK before dropping the Israeli bombs that struck the main training camp of JeM. This was the first time since the 1971 war that India carried out a strike beyond the PoK — Balakot is situated in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
The PAF retaliated the next day and carried out a failed attempt to target Indian military installations.
Wing Commander Varthaman has been awarded the Vir Chakra for his role in thwarting the Pakistani offensive and for shooting down an F-16 fighter aircraft.
Squadron Leader Minty Aggarwal of Barnala-based Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) has been awarded with a Yudh Seva medal for ensuring that PAF attempts were thwarted by effectively directing and vectoring the Indian fighter aircraft towards the enemy strike package.
Air Commodore S.K. Vidhate, Group Captains Y.S. Negi, Hemant Kumar and Hansel Sequeira also got the Yudh Seva medals. This medal is a war-time distinguished service award.
All these officers played a crucial role on 26-27 February.
Army gets 107 gallantry awards
The Army, too, had its share of gallantry awards with its personnel getting a total of 107 awards, including 15 (posthumous). There are five Mention-In-Dispatches too. Mention in Dispatches record the acts of valour in the service records of personnel.
Sapper Prakash Jhadav, who died fighting terrorists in an operation in Kulgam in November 2018, has been awarded with the Kirti Chakra.
Lance Naik Sandeep Singh, who was part of the 2016 surgical strike, has been awarded with Shaurya Chakra (posthumous). Belonging to the 4 Para, he was killed in a counter-infiltration operation on 22 September 2018 in Kupwara district’s Tangdhar sector along the LoC.
Also read: Mirage 2000: Why India used these fighter jets for its strike on Pakistan
Then where is pakistani pilot Wg Cdr Shahzaz Ud Din
Why his whereabouts being hidden .
IAF has become Modi air force……………Feb 27th was day for humiliation for IAF…..What are they giving top each other for?
WAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GREAT STANDARDS
NO PAKISTAN F16 WAS SHOT DOWN – THE INDIAN PRESS MUST NOT ENCOURAGE THIS POLITICAL JINGOISM – ITS HARMING INDIA AND IS UNPATRIOTIC
Lockheed Martin has made a statement that all F16 aircraft are accounted for in the Pakistani inventory.
There is a multimillion dollar maintenance contract for these aircraft and they are being serviced as per schedule ( all flying data is being logged for each individual aircraft). Lockheed have also confirmed in writing with US state department , that all of Pakistani F16 are in inventory .
Since no Pakistan aircraft is missing the award for shooting down a PAK F16 is false based on fiction.
The honest Air Force personnel who were involved and know the truth, are being drawn into a web of political lies.
MODI WON THE ELECTIONS IN “ BALAKOT JINGOISM”, POLITICIANS ARE TRYING TO MILK THIS BY COMPROMISING THE INTEGRITY OF OUR BRAVE PILOTS.
Officers of our armed services are expected to have high standards of integrity, this is how they earn the respect of their men, who are expected to be led by these officers .
Our Air chiefs should object to false awards, they men they command are brave enough to win awards on their own merits, without politicians making them complicit into accepting false ones.
I had expected our IAF chief to object to his Air Force being used in this way for political ends.
Wow! Really. There’s a simpler explanation to this: the strikes were a fact and were very effective…..
I think Air force deserved that. Just imagine had the Balakot air strike failed… the embarrassment and humiliation that Modi and his political hat to face.
Air force with their depleted squadrons and resources had done an excellent job. This air strike has certainly turned the tactical tables of warfare between INDIA and PAK, With even limited and almost no technological superiority Indian air force had this mission accomplished. Just imagine what would have happened had we got s400s and Rafale on time., Indian air force would have teared apart the PAK airspace and within hours would have achieved air superiority.
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