NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) - India accused Pakistan of using United States-made F-16 fighter jets in its raid in Kashmir, opening up a potential diplomatic row over the aircraft's deployment by one American ally against another.
India said it scrambled MiG-21 Bison, Su-30 MKI and Mirage-2000 aircraft to intercept Pakistan's jets and has evidence, including the wreckage of an AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile fired by a Pakistani F-16.
The Indian Air Force also tracked the so-called digital signatures of the aircraft, one of which was downed by India and fell in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Air Vice-Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor said in New Delhi on Thursday (Feb 28).
Islamabad has denied it used F-16s in the raid or that it lost one.
The US government is closely monitoring the situation, according to a State Department official.
"There is enough evidence to show that F-16s were used in this mission and Pakistan is trying to hide this fact," Air Vice-Marshal Kapoor said at a joint briefing by India's armed forces.
Pakistani "aircraft attempting to target military installations were intercepted by IAF fighter aircraft, which thwarted their plans".
The US sale of the Lockheed Martin Corp jets to Pakistan mandates that they be flown only for counter-terrorism operations, according to Mr Rahul Bedi, a New Delhi-based analyst with Janes Information Services.
The planes can't be used against any other country, he said.
US relations with Pakistan have worsened in recent years and in 2016 Congress refused to give subsidies for Pakistan to buy new F-16s.
Then last year, US President Donald Trump cut some US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) in security aid to the country, claiming that Islamabad was doing little to clamp down on insurgent groups.
The nuclear-armed nations are in a tense military stand-off since India said its jets launched air strikes to destroy insurgent bases inside Pakistan.
The target was a camp run by the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claimed responsibility for the Feb 14 suicide car bombing in Kashmir that killed 40 members of India's security forces.
Tuesday's attack by India prompted Pakistan to retaliate the next day.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesman for Pakistan's military, couldn't be immediately reached for comment.