Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’ 51 Squadron will be awarded unit citation by Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria for thwarting Pakistani aerial attack and shooting down their F-16 fighter aircraft on Feb 27, earlier this year.
Commanding officer Group Captain Satish Pawar will receive the award on behalf of 51 Squadron Air Force Day on October 8.
ALSO READ: Counter-insurgency drills begin as part of joint military exercise between India, Kazakhstan
The India Air Force carried out the strike on Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camps in Balakot, Abhinandan, who flew a MiG-21 Bison fighter into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), shot down a Pakistan Air Force F-16 in a dog fight before his plane was hit which forced him to eject.
Abhinandan was captured but was released by Pakistan on March 1. He was also conferred with the third-highest wartime gallantry award, Vir Chakra on Independence Day. He was grounded for six months before he was cleared to fly again. On September 2, he returned to the cockpit of a MiG-21 for along with former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa.
Squadron Leader Minty Agarwal’s 601 Signal unit will also be awarded for their role in Balakot aerial strikes and foiling the Pakistani air attack. A fighter controller, Minty Agarwal played a key role in intercepting the Pakistani warplanes on February 27.
The number nine squadron, whose Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft carried out the Balakot aerial strikes on February 26 during ‘Operation Bandar’, will also be awarded.