The head of Indian Air Force today said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman can join back his old unit immediately if he’s declared fit by the doctors.
Addressing a press conference, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said the IAF won’t make any changes to his deployment status based purely on recent events.
However, he said, the pilot has to be 100% fit.
“Ejection is something that takes a toll on your body. If you’re not perfectly fit, and God forbid, you have to eject again, you will end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life,” Dhanoa said.
Abhinandan Varthaman was captured by the Pakistani army after he was forced to bail out of a Mig 21 Bison aircraft that was hit by anti-aircraft guns in Pakistan-held Kashmir last week.
The Bison aircraft was on the tails of a Pakistani jet that had tried to enter Indian territory, but was repulsed by a group that included the Bison.
Dhanoa was also asked by the Bison was used when it was nearly 40 years old. Pakistan, in comparison, used F16 Aircraft that are considered almost state-of-the-art.
Many defence experts expressed surprise that Indian army brought down an fourth-generation F16 with a Soviet-era Bison. It is not a 3rd generation, but a 3.5 generation aircraft, he said.
Dhanoa said it was an upgraded aircraft. “We fight with all the aircraft in our inventory,” he said.