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Abhinandan Varthaman to start flying MiG 21 within next two weeks: Sources

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: August 9, 2019  | 21:22 IST

New Delhi, Aug 9 (PTI) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who became the face of a tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan, is set to fly MiG 21 within next two weeks as a medical board cleared his return to fighter cockpit, sources said on Friday. The 36-year-old IAF pilot had sustained injuries while ejecting from his MiG 21 Bison during the aerial combat between Indian and Pakistani air forces on February 27. Official sources said IAF's Bangaluru-based Institute of Aerospace Medicine has given the go-ahead to Varthaman to fly again following a thorough medical evaluation. The Wing Commander is expected to start flying within next two weeks, they said. Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat. Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan. Days after he returned from Pakistan, Varthaman conveyed to IAF brass his wish to return to fighter cockpit at the earliest. After he was captured, Varthaman showed courage and grace in handling the most difficult circumstances for which he was praised by politicians, strategic affairs experts, ex-servicemen, celebrities and people in general. The IAF has already recommended conferring Vir Chakra, the coveted wartime gallantry medal, to Varthaman. Vir Chakra is the third highest after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra. The IAF pilot underwent a nearly two-week-long debriefing by security agencies following his return from Pakistan. IAF fighter jets bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26, nearly two weeks after the Pulwama strike. Pakistan retaliated on February 27 by attempting to target Indian military installations. PTI MPB SMN

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