“R-73 is selected” was the last radio transmission of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from the MiG-21 Bison he was flying. After that, he had shot down the Pakistani F-16 fighter jet with Vympel R-73 air to air missile. The Pakistani fighter jet had violated the Indian airspace by entering the border areas of Jammu & Kashmir’s Rajouri district.
Abhinandan had pursued the Pakistani jets ignoring warnings from flight controllers asking him not to do so. He was asked to turn away before crossing the Line of Control, but he had already engaged an F-16 and decided to go for the kill before returning. After locking onto the F-16, Abhinandan used the short-range R-73 missile to take it down. Immediately after he released the missile, his plane was also hit, forcing him to eject and land inside Pakistan controlled territory.
Pakistan had retaliated the Indian airstrikes on the terrorist camps of Pakistan backed terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad in Balakot in Pakistan by deploying F-16s, JF-17s and Mirage-5 fighter jets to attack Indian military installations across the LoC. However due to swift and timely response of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Pakistan’s malicious plans could not succeed. Indian fighter jets Sukhoi-30MKIs, Mirage-2000s, MiG-29s and six MiG-21s including the one flied by Wing Commander Abhinandan were deployed India to intercept the Pakistani fighter jets.
Wing Commander Abhinandan locked on to the Pakistani F-16, which is comparatively modern, before being shot down and accidentally landing in the PoK. Pakistan has been denying having deployed the F-16 to intrude the Indian air space but the electronic signatures of the F-16s were picked up by the IAF radars. The Indian forces had also recovered the parts of an AIM-120C advanced medium range air to air missile form east of Rajouri in J&K, which is only carried by the Pakistani F-16s.