Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flew a sortie with IAF Chief BS Dhanoa in MiG-21 aircraft on Monday. Photo/ANI
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flew a sortie with IAF Chief BS Dhanoa in MiG-21 aircraft on Monday. Photo/ANI

IAF Chief, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman fly MiG-21 together

By Ajit K Dubey (ANI) | Updated: Sep 02, 2019 16:34 IST

Pathankot (Punjab) [India], Sept 2 (ANI): Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who emerged as a hero after he shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft during a dogfight in February earlier this year, flew a sortie with IAF Chief BS Dhanoa in a MiG-21 fighter aircraft here on Monday.
The IAF Chief was the lead pilot during the sortie with Wing Commander Abhinandan. While Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa was in the front cockpit, Abhinandan was in the rear cockpit.
This was also the last sortie of the IAF Chief in a combat aircraft before his retirement due on September 30.
In the sortie covered exclusively by ANI, the Chief and Abhinandan flew for around 30 minutes in the trainer version of the MiG-21 Type 69 combat aircraft.
Speaking to ANI after the sortie, Dhanoa said the two have two things in common. "Firstly, both of us ejected (from aircraft due to emergencies) and secondly, both of us have fought Pakistanis. I fought in Kargil, he fought after Balakot," he said.
The IAF chief pointed out that he had flown with Abhinandan's father also who retired as an Air Marshal more than five years ago.
"I have flown with his father. It is an honour for me to do my last sortie in IAF, in a fighter aircraft, with his son." an emotional chief said.
The sortie has taken place a day before the official induction of the Apache attack choppers in the Indian Air Force. The IAF Chief will induct the choppers was which are being deployed in Pathankot airbase.
Wg Cdr Abhinandan had become a national hero after he played a big role in thwarting a Pakistani counter-attack on February 27, a day after IAF bombed the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad's camp in Pakistan's Balakot.
Abhinandan flying in his MiG-21Bison also shot down an F-16 of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) before being shot down by another Pakistani jet.
Abhinandan was taken captive by the Pakistani Army. Pakistan returned the IAF pilot two days later after India exerted pressure through the international community for his release.
Recognising the gallantry and valour of Abhinandan in taking down the enemy aircraft and thwarting the larger attack, the government awarded him the wartime gallantry medal Vir Chakra.
IAF Chief Dhanoa played a major role in the success of the Balakot aerial strikes in which the Indian Mirages destroyed a camp of Jaish terrorists hidden on a hilltop in the Balakot town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
The IAF Chief also played an important role in the 1999 Kargil war where he was commanding the 17 Squadron flying the MiG-21s. His deputy, Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, was shot down by Pakistani ground troops while he went to search and locate Flt Lt Nachiketa whose plane had also gone down. (ANI)