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Abhinandan Varthaman, Who Shot Down Pakistan Fighter Jet, Flies Joint Sortie With IAF Chief

Soon after the sortie, BS Dhanoa expressed jubilance that Abhinandan was able to fly within six months of being ejected from a fighter jet saying that it is what all pilots look forward to.

Recently awarded the Vir Chakra for shooting down a Pakistan fighter jet in a dogfight, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flew a joint sortie with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa in MiG-21 fighter on Monday. The sortie was flown from Pathankot airbase, which is the front-line fighter base and home to the 26 Squadron of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

“It was a pleasure for me to fly with Abhinandan because he has got his flying category back, that is what all pilots look forward to. I also ejected in 1988, it took me 9 months to get my category back. He has been back in less than 6 months,” BS Dhanoa said soon after the sortie.

A senior IAF officer was quoted by IANS news outlet as saying that the sortie lasted for around half-an-hour and was conducted on a trainer MiG-21 aircraft.

Abhinandan had been taken captive by Pakistan after being shot down over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in a dogfight which came in response to the Pulwama terror attack. The pilot was released two days after his capture, which de-escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.

Abhinandan had been flying a MiG-21 when the attack took place. It was reported last month that Varthaman has started flying after being granted a medical clearance. He had sustained injuries while ejecting from the fighter jet. He is currently posted at a Mi-21 Bison airbase in the western desert.

The Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa is also a MiG-21 pilot and had flown the planes during the 1999 Kargil war while commanding the 17 Squadron, during the war. This was Dhanoa’s last sortie.

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