A new badge of honour, AMRAAM Dodgers, has been introduced to the Indian Air Force's No. 51 Squadron following the successful airstrike in Pakistan's Balakot. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is a part of the squadron.
The badge has been named 'AMRAAM' after an AMRAAM missile fired by the US-made Pakistani F-16 jets during a dogfight between India and Pakistan. The IAF had dodged the missiles on the morning of February 27 when around 24 fighter jets flew towards India from Pakistan.
The F-16 aircraft are manufactured by US weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin and have formed the backbone of Pakistan's Air Force for decades. A large number of F-16s were purchased by Pakistan under a US security aid programme, which imposes certain limits on how the aircraft can be used.
Those restrictions do not apply to Pakistan's entire fleet of F-16s, and Islamabad says all of its aircraft - whether purchased outright or through US aid - can be used in legitimate cases of self-defence, such as the engagement on February 27, reports Aljazeera.
Tensions escalated between India and Pakistan following an attack on Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir that killed at least 40 CRPF jawans in Pulwama on February 14.
On February 26, India launched air attacks on Pakistani territory wiping out Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps in the Balakot sector. This led to a fierce fight over Jammu and Kashmir that ended up with an Indian MiG-21 Bison shooting down an F-16. However, that MiG too suffered a hit and crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Its pilot, IAF braveheart Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured by Pakistan Army. He was released two days later.
The developments of February 27 morning lasted 16 minutes, from the time the Pakistani jets took off to the time Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was hit.