Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman was awarded the Vir Chakra on Monday, November 22, by President Ram Nath Kovind at an investiture ceremony for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter aircraft in February 2019.
He shot down an F-16 over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during India’s Balakot air strike but was taken captive by the Pakistan Army after his plane was shot down by enemy forces. Abhinandan was a Wing Commander back then.
Abhinandan is credited to have been the only Mig-21 pilot ever to have shot down an F-16.
The Indian Air Force earlier promoted Abhinandan to the rank of Group Captain.
Abhinandan’s unit 51 Squadron also received a unit citation for its role in thwarting the Pakistan Air Force’s aerial attack on February 27, 2019. India had carried out the strikes in response to a Jaish-e-Mohammed attack on a CRPF convoy.