New Delhi: The US government has reportedly declined to share information with India on the use of F-16 fighter jets by the Pakistan Air Force in its attempted air raids on Indian military installations in Jammu and Kashmir on February 27.
“Soon after we were informed by the Indian side about Pakistan using F-16 aircraft on February 27, we informed the Indians that we will not be sharing any information on the subject as it is a bilateral matter between the US and Pakistan,” The Indian Express quoted a US official as saying.
Defending the stand, the official further said that India understands the position taken by the US. “If a third country tomorrow wants information about the C130 or C17 or Apaches that the IAF uses, our answer would be the same. It is a bilateral matter between India and the US.”
The Indian Air Force had in March complained to the US that Pakistan had violated the end-user agreement on F-16 by using the jets for offensive use against India. The Air Force had also displayed parts of an AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile as evidence to "conclusively" prove that Pakistan deployed US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets during the aerial raid.
Pakistan had categorically said that no F-16 fighter jets were used and denied that one of its planes had been downed by the IAF.
According to prominent US magazine Foreign Policy, a US count of the F-16s with Pakistan found that none of them were "missing" and all the fighter planes were "present and accounted for". The report contradicted India’s claim that the IAF had shot down an F-16 in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the suicide bomber of JeM killed 40 CRPF personnel in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
India had launched a counter-terror operation against a JeM training camp in Balakot. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured its pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.