Note: Nothing in this article comes from confidential sources. Everything cited as fact is verifiable using open channels, the remainder is an analysis of potential post-conflict outcomes.
On 27 February 2019, Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) had announced that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter aircraft. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and IAF countered by claiming the latter shot down a PAF F-16B.
Thus far, only the loss of the one IAF MiG-21bis was openly verified, with other claims – such as the PAF’s and IAF’s respective claims about the F-16B and the Su-30MKI – still yet to be corroborated.
Nonetheless, with India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, asserting that the IAF would have succeeded in its objectives (or remained unscathed) had it received the Dassault Rafale, the air-to-air encounter could have lasting effects on the respective air doctrines of both countries.
Summary of the Air Battle
The only confirmed kill in the engagement is that of the lone IAF MiG-21bis and, separately, the loss of an IAF Mi-17V5 near Srinagar. Given that this is the only information that Quwa can verify by using open, corroborated sources, this will be its tentative assessment until additional information emerges.
For example, we are not taking media photos or stories about the alleged F-16 downing. It is not officially endorsed by the IAF nor was it genuine (Bellingcat’s analysis determined it as MiG-21bis wreckage).
Interestingly, based on this Asia Times article, both India and Pakistan are capable of proving their claims by referring to their respective radar data and communications between their fighters and radars. Neither has currently committed to releasing that information.
Moreover, the PAF is in possession of the IAF MiG-21bis’ recording equipment, which could also have that information (at least in terms of the pilot’s communications).
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