Balakot mission pilots honoured

New Delhi: The five IAF pilots who bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed camp in Pakistan were on Wednesday named for Vayu Sena medals and Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who shot down a Pakistani F-16 but was taken prisoner, was picked for Vir Chakra on the eve of India's Independence Day.

Abhinandan, from the Indian Air Force, brought down the F-16 near the Line of Control (LoC) during a dogfight in February, resulting in his capture and later release by Islamabad.

Along with Abhinandan, pilots of the five Mirage-2000 fighter jets who bombed the JeM terror launch pad in Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunhkwa province were named for Vayu Sena medals.

The Vir Chakra is the third highest wartime military award in India. The Kirti Chakra, the third highest military honour awarded during peacetime, will be conferred posthumously on Thursday on soldier Prakash Jadhav who died in a gunfight with terrorists in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir in November 2018.

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