The government is likely to announce military decorations for Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 during a dogfight over the Line of Control on February 27 and the Mirage-2000 pilots involved in the operation a day before that to precision bomb a terror base in Pakistan’s Balakot.
Varthaman is likely to be awarded a Vir Chakra for his exploits, and the five Mirage-2000 fighter aces who dropped bombs on the terror facility of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry.
Varthaman, then 35, scripted military aviation history by downing an F-16, seconds before his own MiG-21 Bison was hit by a missile forcing him to eject.
Varthaman was captured after he bailed out of his aircraft, but Pakistan returned him to India on March 1 after holding him captive for almost 60 hours. Pakistan had to release him under intense international pressure .