New Delhi, March 14: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is likely to join his same fighter unit after four weeks of medical leave, according to a senior defence ministry official.
The MiG-21 Bison pilot became a hero for his act of shooting down a Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 jet in a dog fight on February 27. While chasing PAF jets, his jet took a hit and he landed on Pakistan occupied territory after ejecting from his plane. Later on, he was handed back to India.
“He is fine and has gone back to his unit in Srinagar. From there, he has gone on sick leave for four weeks,” the source said on Thursday.
Wg. Cdr. Abhinandan was caught by Pakistan on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison fighter jet was hit in a dogfight and came down across the Line of Control (LoC). He was released and handed over to India at the Wagah-Attari border crossing on March 1.
He was posted with the MiG-21 squadron in Srinagar before the incident. His posting will be decided once he gets back to duty.
However, the source said he is likely to join the same unit.
There are questions if he will get back to a fighter unit as ejection from a fighter jet has an impact on the spine.
Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa had said last week that Wg. Cdr. Abhinandan will get into fighter cockpit once he is fit. “If he’s immediately fit, he will go back to the same unit. We don’t change units just because of that,” he stated.
As soon as he crossed over, Wg. Cdr Varthaman was brought to Delhi and admitted to the Army’s Research and Referral (R&R) hospital where he underwent a thorough medical examination and debriefing by several agencies on the events since the crash to his release. He was subjected to mental harassment during the two days of confinement by Pakistan, officials said.
Meanwhile, IAF has attributed the hit on the F-16, which was shot down during the aerial engagement, to Wg. Cdr Varthaman. (Agencies)