Did India shoot down a Pakistani F-16 in February? This just became a big deal.

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With voting underway in India’s general election, February’s Kashmir conflict is likely to weigh on the minds of voters, especially given last week’s social media uproar over the reported downing of a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during the crisis.

The controversy flared up when a Foreign Policy article stated that the Pentagon had accounted for all of Pakistan’s F-16 jets. This report, based on anonymous statements by two U.S. Defense Department officials, contradicted the Indian air force’s (IAF) narrative of the dogfight. The IAF claims an Indian pilot shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter plane before a Pakistani missile took down his own third-generation MiG-21 warplane.

The IAF responded last week by releasing “irrefutable” evidence — including electronic signatures and radio transcripts — that Pakistan lost a fighter jet during the February aerial combat. A number of U.S. and Indian defense analysts called the evidence circumstantial. Indian media reported that a U.S. Defense Department spokesman said he was unaware of any investigation. The Pentagon, like the State Department, has yet to issue a public statement on the F-16 count, but there have been no counter-leaks contradicting the Foreign Policy report.

This article was published in The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog on April 17, 2019. Read the full article here

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