New Delhi. Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on September 2 flew a MiG-21 sortie with Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman from Pathankot air base. The flight lasted 30 minutes.
Wing Cdr Varthaman who had brought down a Pakistan fighter aircraft following the Balakot air strike was shot down on February 27 and taken prisoner by Pakistan but was subsequently released.
This marks the successful return to flying of Abhinandan, who was undergoing intense medical tests following his release from Pakistan.
This was the last sortie flown by the Air Chief in a fighter aircraft before his retirement, the IAF said. The IAF Chief, also the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, is set to retire from service on September 30. The Government is yet to name his successor.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa commanded a squadron of frontline ground attack fighters and hit dug in defences in the icy heights of Kargil during the war in 1999.
“This is my last sortie on a fighter jet. Both of us have two things in common – first, both of us ejected and second, both of us have fought Pakistanis. I fought in Kargil, he fought after Balakot. And third, I’ve flown with his father. It’s an honour for me to do my last sortie in the IAF, in a fighter aircraft, with his son,” the Air Chief Marshal said.