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Indian Air Force ace pilot Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman will be awarded the Vir Chakra in an investiture ceremony on Monday. Varthaman shot a Pakistan F-16 fighter aircraft during aerial combat on February 27 a day after the Balakot airstrike in 2019.

On February 27, a large force of Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft, consisting of advanced fourth-generation F-16 and JF-17, was detected heading towards the LoC. Abhinandan scrambled to intercept this package. Displaying exceptional air combat acumen and knowledge of the enemy's tactics, Abhinandan scanned the low altitude airspace and picked up an enemy aircraft that was flying low to ambush the Indian fighter-interceptor aircraft.

 

Abhinandan alerted the other pilots towards the surprise threat. he then consolidated the riposte against the Pakistani aircraft dropping weapons on Indian Army positions. With this act, all the enemy aircraft turned back. ABhinandan then pursued a retreating enemy fighter bomber aircraft and in ensuing aerial combat, shot down an F-16 aircraft with his onboard missile. However, in the process, one of the Pakistani aircraft fired multiple times forcing him to eject in enemy territory.

Despite being captured by the territory, he continued to display exceptional resolve with the Pakistani forces bravely and stoically.

The Pakistan Army was forced to release him due to the extensive pressure exerted by the Indian side along with international intervention into the matter.

Abhinandan was part of the Srinagar-based 51 squadron and had flown to thwart an aerial attack launched by the Pakistanis on February 27, 2019.

He was recently promoted to the rank of Group Captain.

India had launched an aerial strike on Pakistan's terrorist facility in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) on February 26. (

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