Indian, Pakistani Air Force Pilots To Receive Top Military Awards From Respective Nations

President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi conferred military honour upon Wing Commander Noman Ali and Squadron Leader Hasan Mehmood, for downing an Indian jet in February.

Meanwhile, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, whose Mig-21 Bison was shot-down by Pakistan Air Force and who also reportedly downed an enemy jet in aerial combat will be conferred the Vir Chakra, India’s third-highest wartime gallantry medal.

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According to the ISPR, President has announced Sitara-i-Jurat for one, Tamgha-i-Jurat for two, Sitara-i-Bisalat for eight, Tamgha-i-Bisalat for 88 and certificates for 94 forces’ personnel. Wing Commander Noman Ali was conferred Sitara-i-Jurat and Sq Leader Hasan Mehmood Siddiqui was awarded Tamgha-i-jurat.

At least five Indian Air Force pilots — who were part of the mission to strike a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp inside Pakistan — and Minty Agarwal, a lady officer who played a key role as flight controller during the Pakistani retaliation, were also among the list of military awardees. The defence ministry announced winners for the military awards on the eve of Independence Day celebrations.

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“We are very happy that Abhinandan has been conferred with Vir Chakra,” said an IAF official. The 36-year-old was captured by the Pakistani Army on 27 February after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat.

Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Varthaman was released on the night of 1 March by Pakistan. Varthaman had suffered injuries while ejecting from his MiG-21 Bison during the aerial combat.

A high-level medical board of the IAF has already cleared Varthaman to return to the fighter cockpit.