The Indian Air Force on Wednesday (6 March) officially attributed the F-16 kill to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, journalist Shiv Aroor reported.
As per Aroor, the Wing Commander was the only IAF pilot in a group of eight who fired a R-73 missile against the aggressing Pakistani jets.
BREAKING: IAF now officially attributes Pak F-16 kill to Wg Cdr Abhinandan. R-73 missile from his MiG-21 was the only weapon fired by IAF group of 8 fighters that went up against the inbound Pak Air Force jets. Abhi’s final call was to say R-73 locked, before he fell silent. pic.twitter.com/ppu4WolOtz— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) March 6, 2019
Incidentally, this news is a confirmation of earlier reports which stated that Wing Commander Abhinandan before ejecting from his MiG 21" Bison" fighter jet over his radio transmission said "R-73" selected.
He was believed to have let loose the Vympel R-73 air-to-air missile at the Pakistani F-16 fighter jet, which has now been confirmed.
Vathaman was reportedly among the six MiG-21s pilots who scrambled from Srinagar, along with Sukhoi 30MKIs, Mirage 2000s and MiG-29s being deployed to respond to the Pakistani fighters.
"We knew that they (Pakistan) would react after our Balakot strikes, but did not expect them to retaliate so soon," an officer was quoted as saying.
The entire high altitude dogfight reportedly went on for for 15 minutes. "The R-73 is better in such a melee. This is probably the first time MiG-21 has shot down an American F-16 anywhere in the world," another officer said.
IAF fighters managed to thwart the attempt by Pakistani fighters to target Indian installations via laser-guided bombs.