Squadron Leader Minty Aggarwal, the woman fighter controller who played a key role in intercepting the Pakistan air force’s attempt to launch retaliatory air attacks after the Indian Air Force’s Balakot airstrikes has been named for the Yuddh Seva Medal.
The Yuddh Seva Medal is awarded to recognise distinguished service of a high order during war, conflict or hostilities.
Sq Ldr Minty Aggarwal was part of a team of seven fighter controllers on duty on February 27 morning and controlled the Indian Air Force’s interception package launched to stop Pakistan’s fighter jets.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was one of the pilots who took off to engage the intruding Pakistani F-16 fighter jets and scripted military aviation history by downing a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during the aerial dogfight that followed.
Sources said Sq Ldr Minty Aggarwal was also the one who told Wing Commander Abinandan Varthaman turn back at the right moment. But Wing Commander Abhinandan could not hear the instruction because the communication system had already been jammed by Pakistan Air force by then. His MiG21 Bison wasn’t equipped with the anti-jamming technology that the IAF had been asking for years. It could have prevented him from being shot down and taken captive by Pakistan.
But before the MiG21 Bison was hit by a missile, the IAF officer shot down the F-16 jet that he had engaged.
Varthaman was caught by the Pakistani forces and held in detention for 60 hours before Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in Islamabad that he would be freed.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman has been named for the Vir Chakra, India’s third-highest wartime gallantry award, after the Param Vir Chakra and the Maha Vir Chakra.
The five Mirage-2000 fighter aces who had dropped bombs with precision on the terror facility of the Jaish-e-Mohammed are also being awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry.
The IAF had destroyed the JeM camp in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s province after entering Pakistani airspace for the first time in 48 years following a suicide bombing claimed by the terror group that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14.
First Published: Aug 14, 2019 16:09 IST