Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is all set to receive nation’s third highest wartime medal, Vir Chakra. Varthaman exhibited exceptional Valor by shooting down a Pakistani F-16 using a much inferior jet and staying strong in the enemy’s custody, last year.
Varthaman’s name was recommended by the IAF for the gallantry awards annually conferred upon on Independence day. The 35-year-old Wing Commander was flying a MiG-21 Bison when he shot Pakistan’s F-16. Seconds after Varthaman made the historic kill of an F-16 by a MiG-21, his own fighter aircraft was hit by Pakistan’s missile and he was forced to eject.
He landed on Pakistan’s territory and was captured. After staying in Pakistan’s captivity for almost 60 hours, the IAF hero was returned to India on March 1.
The February 27 clash took place a day after the Mirage-2000s struck targets in Balakot in response to the Pulwama suicide attack in Kashmir in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force men were killed on February 14.
Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra are the second and third highest gallantry medals after Ashoka Chakra during peacetime. Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry medal after Param Vir Chakra & Maha Vir Chakra in war-time.