SOURCE: TUSHKAR SHIRODKAR / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Why should it be so difficult for the Pakistani air force to admit that it lost one of it F-16 against vastly inferior Indian Mig-21 recently? It isn’t for the first time anywhere in the world that an F-16 has been lost in a dogfight and the fact remains that on Oct. 1996, a HAF Mirage 2000 fired an R.550 Magic II air to air missile that shot down a Turkish F-16D that had violated the Greek airspace so why it is so difficult for most of the Pakistani citizens to believe that their larger then life F-16 can actually be shot down and it is not for the first time Pakistani air force tried to claim no loss fakery which it even tried after end of the 1971 war with India.
Pakistani Army’s Instrument of Surrender happened on 16 December 1971 and a new country called as Bangladesh was created with help of the Indian Army. Pakistani air force some in the Pakistani army said was fighting its own war, mostly to wage a propaganda war against Indian air force by largely concentrating its interception missions within its own airspace and limiting aerial supports for its own troops and a negligible amount of missions across the Indian border. when IAF claimed that it has brought down multiple numbers of PAF’s latest acquisition which was Mirage-III fighter jets from France after the war, PAF refused to acknowledge any loss and instead launched a major propaganda campaign asked then IAF chief come visit and count them in person.
Nearly 22 Mirage-III fighter jets were assembled in one airbase and with much funfair western media reporters were called in to count the jets for them self. PAF claimed that 24 Mirage-III fighter jets were delivered to them before the war and one was lost before the war in a training sortie and one was under maintenance which practically debunked IAF claims of shooting down 2-3 Mirage-III at that time. As expected Pakistani state media along with western media reporters with a biased tilt towards Pakistan went full on the propaganda warfare and called IAF a lier that no one actually bothered to check anything with France.
Since most of the noted claims of IAF happened inside Pakistani airspace, IAF was in the same position as today and had to rely on Pilots admission of each kill. No debris meant, no proof of the kill and the propaganda almost succeeded but the French government finally broke its silence and through diplomatic channel confirmed to India and some other countries that Mirage-III delivered to Pakistan before 1971 war actually was 28 and not 24 as claimed by PAF in the propaganda stunt in front of International media, which actually meant that PAF had suffered heavy damages or suffered total loss of at least 4 Mirage-III in 1971 war which was never accepted by PAF.
Reports of PAF receiving three Mirage-III from an Arab Country most likely from Libya was also never reported by PAF but it was largely assumed that those batch of jets arrived too late when the war was in last stages and fall of Dhaka was imminent. F-104 loaned by Jordan to Pakistan before the war was also lost to IAF Mig-21 in an aerial dogfight which IAF never knew belonged to Jordan. IAF had claimed that Two Gnat pilots along with one Hunter and Mig-21 pilot had claimed to have shot down a Mirage-III but PAF refuted those claims and tried a propaganda stunt in front of International media which almost succeeded till French Government came clean.
No F-16 loss propaganda too will be difficult for IAF to proof since there is no debris nor any pilot in captivity. PAF may try to pull same propaganda stunt again if they manage to get some help from its close allies like Jordan and Turkey who also operate F-16 fleet and also have few non-operational F-16s to be loaned for propaganda purpose unless Uncle Sam decides to come clean and finally spills the beans.
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