An American media report today suggested, while attributing American military sources, that the Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft fleet was intact as America had counted Islamabad's F-16s and found none missing. "Time for India to speak truth about false claims & actual losses on their side".
Pakistan had invited American officials to physically count the F-16s after the incident.
A large number of the F-16s were purchased by Pakistan under a USA security aid programme, which imposes certain limits on how the aircraft can be used.
The Indian government had said that in a dog fight on February 27, IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a Pakistani F-16.
"Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took United States personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets", an unnamed United States defence official was quoted as saying in the report. One was an IAF MiG-21 Bison and other a PAF [Pakistan Air Force] aircraft.
Pakistan had rubbished the Indian reports, making a counter-claim that two aircraft did indeed go down, but both belonged to India.
According to the report, U.S. personnel had done a count of Pakistan's F-16s and found none missing.
"All aircraft were present and accounted for", the official was quoted as saying by the magazine. The fact remains that Pakistan Airforce shot down two Indian jets in self defence.
The Air Force said radio intercepts proved that two pilots had ejected, not just one. "Electronic signatures gathered by us indicate that the PAF aircraft was a F-16".
At the time, U.S. officials told Al Jazeera the Pakistani military had invited U.S. inspectors to visit Pakistani airbases to verify the number of F-16s in the fleet.
"This is what Pakistan has been saying all along, the truth", said Pakistani military spokesperson Major-General Asif Ghafoor on Friday.
Pakistan Air Force's attempted a "reposte" on February 27 in an air raid that included F-16s, JF 17s and Mirage III/V and the aircraft were picked up by the IAF radars, the IAF stated.
In all its statements on the aerial combat with Pakistan, New Delhi had insisted that a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet was shot down by the Indian Air Force.
"Pakistan retains the right to use anything and everything in its legitimate self defence", said a Pakistani military statement on the aerial engagement released on Monday. "But the count, conducted by US authorities on the ground in Pakistan, sheds doubt on New Delhi's version of events, suggesting that Indian authorities may have misled the global community about what happened that day", says Foreign Policy. In the weeks leading up to the election, tensions between India and Pakistan escalated to levels not seen in decades after a Pakistan-based militant group killed more than 40 Indian security officers in a February 14 suicide bombing in India-controlled Kashmir.
In response, India said it carried out on February 26 air strikes on what it called a militant training camp at Balakot inside Pakistan.