Strategic Messaging Behind the Indo Pak US F 16 Controversy

The raging controversy over whether an Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG 21 Bison shot down a Pakistan Air Force F 16 Block C/D (PAF) is unlikely to die down soon given the many dimensions and varied strategic messages that it is expected to convey in a media rich universe of today. There are claims and counter claims with no facts available in the open domain to assess the veracity. As information is released in small batches or bits and bytes it is difficult to build a coherent picture based on facts. At the centre of the controversy remains the claim by the IAF that the MiG 21 Bison which is a souped up version of the original machine that was designed in the 1950’s and fielded the R 77 air to air missile shot down a PAF Block F 16 Block C/D in a dogfight on 27 February. This dogfight occurred when PAF fighters attempted to penetrate Indian air space in the Jammu sector and were rebuffed by the IAF. The PAF response was a riposte to the IAF airstrike on the terrorist camp of the Jaish e Mohammad in Balakote, Pakistan a day earlier. IAF displayed the pieces of an AMRAAM missile which can be deployed only on the F 16 combat fighters of the PAF, the others used as Mirage 3 and J F 17 do not have the capability for the same....................................................


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