Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was recently awarded the Vir Chakra for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet, on Monday flew a sortie with Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on a MiG 21 jet at the Pathankot airbase in Punjab.
Both Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa and Varthaman took off from the Pathankot airbase in Punjab. The sortie, which began at around 11.30 am and lasted for around 30 minutes, came nearly six months after Abhinandan sustained injuries while ejecting from a MiG-21 Bison during dogfight between Indian and Pakistani fighter jets on February 27 this year.
This was also special because it was the last sortie flown by IAF chief BS Dhanoa in a fighter aircraft before his retirement at the end of the month. After completing the sortie, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said it was a pleasure to fly with Wing Commander Varthaman.
#WATCH IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa flew a sortie with Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman at Air Force Station Pathankot today in a MiG-21 trainer. It's the last sortie flown by IAF Chief in a fighter aircraft before retirement.They took off around 1130 hrs for a 30 min sortie. pic.twitter.com/retSoI3EVl- ANI (@ANI) September 2, 2019
"This is my last sortie on a fighter jet. Both of us have two things in common - first, both of us ejected and second, both of us have fought Pakistanis. I fought in Kargil, he fought after Balakot. And third, I've flown with his father. It's an honour for me to do my last sortie in the IAF, in a fighter aircraft, with his son," the Air Chief Marshal reportedly said.
IAF Chief BS Dhanoa and Wing Commander Abhinandan meeting the ground crew including technicians after their MiG-21 sortie today. pic.twitter.com/HsjQ8QkzmH- ANI (@ANI) September 2, 2019
"He (Varthaman) has got back his flying category in less than six months which is good," said Dhanoa.
Abhinandan, 36, was deemed fit to fly two weeks ago after IAF's Bengaluru-based Institute of Aerospace Medicine gave him the go-ahead to fly again following a thorough medical evaluation. He was taken off flying duties due to injuries sustained in Pakistan after ejecting from his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet during a dog fight with Pakistan jets earlier this year.
He was conferred wartime gallantry medal Vir Chakra on the eve of India's Independence Day on 14 August for downing Pakistan's F-16 jet. Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army after his MiG-21 Bison jet too was shot down in the dogfight. Pakistan released him on March 1.
The sortie comes a day before Indian Air Force inducts eight US-made AH-64E Apache attack helicopters that will enhance the force's combat capabilities. The AH-64E Apache is one of the world's most advanced multi-role combat helicopters and is flown by the US Army.
Edited by Chitranjan Kumar with PTI inputs