New Delhi: Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who spent some days in Pakistani custody when his MiG-21 was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistan Air Force jets a day after the February 26 Balakot airstrike, will likely be conferred the Vir Chakra on Independence Day, sources said Wednesday.
The 36-year-old IAF pilot had suffered injuries while ejecting from his MiG-21 Bison during the aerial combat between Indian and Pakistani air forces February 27.
Abhinandan Varthaman, who became the face of a tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan, is set to fly MiG-21 within a few weeks as a medical board has cleared his return to fighter cockpit.
Official sources said IAF’s Bangalore -based Institute of Aerospace Medicine has given the go-ahead to Abhinandan Varthaman to fly again following a thorough medical evaluation.
Before his jet was hit, Abhinandan downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan.
Days after he returned from Pakistan, the pilot conveyed to IAF brass his wish to return to fighter cockpit at the earliest.
IAF fighter jets bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan, February 26, nearly two weeks after the Pulwama strike.
Pakistan retaliated on February 27 by attempting to target Indian military installations, but their efforts were foiled.