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Indian Air Force Day: Balakot hero Abhinandan Varthaman leads MiG-21 Bison formation in flypast

Indian Air Force Day 2019: Three Mirage 2000 aircraft and two Su-30MKI fighter aircraft flew in ‘Avenger formation’ by pilots who took part in the Balakot airstrike in February this year.

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman on Tuesday led the formation of the Indian Air Force’s MiG-21 Bison fighter jets during the Air Force Day parade at the Hindon Air Base in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad.

Three Mirage 2000 aircraft and two Su-30MKI fighter aircraft flew in ‘Avenger formation’ by pilots who took part in the Balakot airstrike in February this year.

IAF pilots who took part in the force’s Balakot airstrikes were a part of the parade as a mark of tribute to teams which carried out the strike on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)’s terror camp in Balakot in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on February 26 and thwarted the Pakistani aerial attack on February 27.

The 36-year-old Abhinandan Varthman was captured by Pakistan’s army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat.

Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Abhinandan was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan.

The action followed a suicide bombing claimed by the terror group that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14.

Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said there was a major shift in the way terror attacks were being handled while speaking during on the 87th Air Force Day.

“The strategic relevance of this (Balakot airstrike) is the resolve of political leadership to punish perpetrators of terrorism. There is a major shift in the government’s way of handling terrorist attacks,” he said while speaking about the IAF’s airstrike.

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