The Indian Air Force (IAF) will be recommending Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and other officers who took part in the Balakot airstrikes and subsequent operations for wartime gallantry awards.
Abhinandan Varthaman is being recommended for the Vir Chakra by the Indian Air Force. The Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry award in the military after the Param Vir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.
Twelve Mirage 2000 pilots who bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan have been recommended for the Vayu Sena medal of gallantry.
Meanwhile, amid concerns over Abhinandan’s security, the Indian Air Force has posted out the ace fighter pilot from Srinagar to another important air base in the western sector along the Pakistan border.
The transfer came after the IAF assessed a security threat to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s life. Abhinandan Varthaman is currently posted at an important airbase in the western sector of Srinagar.
“The posting order of the officer has been issued and he would soon be moving out of the Srinagar air base to his new place of posting,” sources in the Air Force said.
He will be undergoing medical tests before getting deployed to his new place of posting, sources said.
The IAF pilot is facing a threat from terror organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) which has been trying to attack Indian military locations and personnel.
According to the sources, the new posting (name of the airbase being withheld due to security reasons) is also a fighter base and if the officer is cleared for flying, he would be able to continue his flying duties.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has the unique distinction of being the only pilot in the world to have shot down an F-16 combat aircraft from his vintage MiG-21 Bison aircraft on February 27 during a dogfight with Pakistan.
He became a national hero when he was captured by the Pakistan Army on February 27, 2019, after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets. He was released on the night of March 1, 2019, by Pakistan.
Earlier this week, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman underwent medical tests at a Delhi-based facility for becoming eligible to fly the MiG-21s again. Abhinandan has flown different types of fighter aircraft in the Indian Air Force including the mighty Su-30MKI.