How does the RADAR Imagery released by Indian Air Force prove that the F-16 was struck down?
Indian Air Force Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor in a Press Briefing put up some pieces of evidence to highlight the point that a Pakistani F-16 Fighter Jet was shot down by a Mig-21 “Bison” of No.51 Squadron, piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan.
The pieces of evidence shared by Indian Air Force is most likely a heavily watered down version of what is actually available with the Indian Air Force and was showcased after serious apprehensions cast by a US-based magazine and follow-on reports that all Pakistani F-16s are accounted for. The first slide showcased highlights this:
This the Radar Footprint of Abhinandan’s Mig-21 (marked in a Blue Circle) chasing a Pakistani F-16 (marked in Red Circle). Do note that there are two other F-16s in the area, with the Mig-21 on their tail. The second slide highlights this:
This is the status of the Battlespace after eight seconds of the first slide. The Radar Footprint of the F-16 has just vanished into thin air while the two other F-16s are still visible marked in the Red. So what does it prove?
There was another visible track of an F-16 that just vanished into thin air and this has to lend much more credibility to the Indian version of events that another aircraft in the vicinity with an Indian Air Force Mig-21 at its tail was shot down that was an F-16. These Radar Footprints were captured by an Indian Air Force Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System Aircraft.
For tech nerds, Phalcon has an IAI EL/W-2090 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar which is capable of monitoring upto 400–450 kilometres of the airspace it is deployed in. On that fateful day of 27th February, a Phalcon was deployed in the airspace and had a radar pick-up of the Pakistani Strike Package before they aggressed and crossed the Line of Control.
The Phalcon has a capability to monitor Large Force Engagements at 10,000–40,000 feet and uses Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) to distinguish various fighters in the airspace and guide its own fighters against them. Phalcon coordinates with the Air Defence Ground Environment System (ADGES) and Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS) of Indian Air Force, in this regard, to pick up Electromagnetic Signatures emitted from the aircraft and then analyze them.
This allowed the Phalcon to correctly identify the aircraft flying in the whole airspace. This radar signature is an irrefutable piece of evidence which will be globally recognized by any Military Professional who knows these stuff about Electronic Intelligence and how these things work. The F-16’s APG-68 V9 radar signature can be located on this screen at two locations: 40,000–30,000 feet and 15,000–10,000 feet. The first package at 40,000–30,000 feet engaged the SU-30MKI with AIM-120C AMRAAMs while the second package engaged with Mig-21 at 15,000–10,000 feet.
The R/T on the launch of an R-73 Missile by Abhinandan and the vanishing of the F-16 data on the screen matches proving that it was a sure-shot kill which cannot be refuted.
Another great evidence put up by the Indian Air Force was the OSINT (Open-Source Intelligence) Data. It was observed by forward Indian Army posts (who are geographically 7–8 kilometres apart) of two parachutes falling with Abhinandan’s parachute landing in Tandar while the second parachute falling in Sabzkot.
OSINT Data Analysis further proves that there was more than one parachute in the sky: One the standard Mig Parachute while the another was an F-16 C9 Parachute which eerily has: White, Orange and Green as its colours and guess what? These colours match that of the Indian tricolour. So it would be no heresy to claim that the pilot who landed in Sabzkot was also lynched in the same manner as Abhinandan and was mistaken as an Indian. Remember this is not the first time of such an incident happening: An Indian Pilot Flight Lieutenant Hussian, in 1965, was also lynched in the same manner by Indian Public when he crash-landed into the Indian territory, as he was thought to be a Pakistani.
An interesting fact is that Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail (A Former Pakistan Air Force Veteran who has flown F-16 Falcons) has said in an Asia Times Article about what India could present as evidence to prove an F-16 kill:
“It is relatively easy to provide incontrovertible evidence for such a kill by the IAF,” Tufail told Asia Times in several text messages in response to queries. “The MiG-21 pilot should have been in touch with his fighter controller on the ground. Also, the other Indian fighter aircraft engaging the PAF fighter jets would have been monitoring the situation. They would have the data that can prove if an F-16 was shot down. Why isn’t India releasing that data?”.
“The trace of the ground and airborne radar scope is always recorded, and usually, all radars preserve this for up to 72 hours, before being overwritten,” he said. “These traces can easily provide the incoming aircraft. And the sudden disappearance of the blip from the (radar) scope of this incoming aircraft will imply a ‘kill.’ There couldn’t be better evidence than this.”
“The IAF can (also) provide audio recording(s) of the interception in which the (MiG-21) pilot must have transmitted to his flight controller. There would be ‘radar contact,’ ‘visual contact,’ target shot down.’ These recordings should be available with the ground radar as well as the airborne radar that was flying that day.”
All these Radar Signatures ostensibly prove the Indian version of events that an F-16 was struck down and now Pakistan is trying hard to cover its tracks by relying on foreign reports which lend no legitimacy by their own source. This incident was significant in many ways: Indian Air Force had always a cool-headed approach in these matters unlike Pakistani ISPR who story riddled with multiple loop-holes made it a laughing stock and showed the potential in the Indian version of events that an F-16 was shot down, which is now irrefutably proved!
Harsh B Mishra is a writer on DefenceUpdate, he also loves to write on Quora. You can follow him on Quora for more interesting knowledge on special forces.