Varthaman Abhinandan, who was promoted to Group Captain is awarded with Vir Chakra by President Ram Nath Kovind. Abhinandan was the one who shot down F-16 fighter jet of Pakistan. During the catfight, his jet crashed and he fall into the Pakistan. Vir Chakra was given in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Vir Chakra is India’s third highest wartime gallantry award after Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra.
His Vir Chakra citation, “Varthaman showed conspicuous courage, demonstrated gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal safety and displayed exceptional sense of duty.”
“Displaying exceptional air combat acumen and knowledge of the enemy’s tactics, Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan scanned the !ow altitude airspace with his Airborne Intercept (Al) radar and picked up an enemy aircraft that was flying low to ambush the Indian fighter interceptor aircraft,” his citation for the Vir Chakra read.
“Abhinandan alerted the other formation pilots towards this surprise threat. He then consolidated the riposte, by gathering his wingman in an offensive formation against the hostile Pakistani aircraft now dropping weapons on Indian Army positions. This audacious and aggressive maneuver forced the enemy aircraft into tactical chaos. All the enemy aircraft thereafter turned back including the rear echelon aircraft who were yet to launch their air to ground weapons,” the citation said.
“Wing Commander Varthaman Abhinandan then pursued a retreating enemy fighter bomber aircraft, and in the ensuing aerial combat, shot down an F-16 aircraft with his on-board missile. However, in the melee, one of the enemy aircraft fired multiple advanced BVR missiles, one of which hit his aircraft forcing him to eject in enemy 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,” it said, adding that he “showed conspicuous courage, demonstrated gallantry in the face of the enemy while disregarding personal Safety and displayed exceptional sense of duty”.
After his return to India from Pakistan, Abhinandan said thar he wanted to continue flying.