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Disgraced Indian pilot Abhinandan may return to fly fighter jet again

NEW DELHI:  Indian pilot wing commander Abhinandan, whose MiG-21 was shot down by Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder in a dogfight, might return to fly a fighter plane.

Indian media reports said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman is returning to a fighter cockpit soon. But the report said the final clearance will be given by the Bengaluru-based Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) where the 35-year-old will undergo a series of tests in the coming weeks.

The aerial skirmish between Indian and Pakistan took place a day after Indian Mirage 2000s carried out an aerial strike in Balakot in response to the Pulwama suicide attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force men were killed on February 14. Though India claimed Abhinandan shot down an F-16 fighter jet but international media and US officials in their reports exposed the Indian lies.

According to Hindustan Times, Varthaman was in Delhi last week for a medical review at the Air Force Central Medical Establishment, the same facility where he was first brought to on March 1 after his repatriation from Pakistan where he spent almost 60 hours in custody.

The medical establishment is a specialist facility where aircrews from the three services are assessed for flying fitness. Doctors at the Army Hospital (Research and Referral) have also been involved in his medical assessment and treatment. He was diagnosed with injuries to his spine and rib.

“In such ejection cases, specialists usually assess a pilot’s health for up to 12 weeks before they clear him for flying again. So we will know about Abhinandan by May-end. But going by the current health indicators and the officer’s determination to return to fighter flying, we hope to see him in a g-suit soon,” HT quoted an official as saying.