Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was born on 21 June 1983. He is a decorated Indian Air Force officer. In the 2019 India-Pakistan tie, he fired an R-73 missile only to destroy Pakistan aircraft before his Mig 21 Bison aircraft was hit by an AMRAAM missile.
As per India Today TV, Abhinandan was the only IAF pilot who fired a missile in close combat. As Abhinandan’s aircraft was shot down by Pakistan forces, Abhinandan parachuted into enemy territory and was soon surrounded by a mob and was held captive for 60 hours.
Before he was captured, Abhinandan swallowed important documents which should not have been seized by enemy hands. All this happened while he was ‘bleeding profusely’ after the crash as per media reports. The pilot was then beaten before being handed over to Pakistani forces.
For the next few days, videos of him being interrogated in Pakistani custody went viral on social media around the world. When he was asked about the details of the mission and other things, Abhinandan says, “I am sorry, I am not supposed to tell you this.” For his extraordinary tale of bravery, he was conferred the Vir Chakra gallantry award in August 2019.
Abhinandan’s family hails from Thirupanamoor, a village about 19 km from Kanchipuram. His father retired as an Air Marshal (OF-8) in the IAF and his mother is a doctor. Abhinandan studied at Sainik Welfare School, Amatavatinagar in Chennai and has graduated from the National Defence Academy (NDA).
He was commissioned into the combat (fighter) stream of the Indian Air Force as a flying officer on 19 June 2004. He was skillfully trained at the Indian Air Force centres in Bathinda and Halwara and then inducted into flight lieutenant on 19 June 2006.
He grew from strength to strength and then he was promoted to squadron leader on 8 July 2010. He was a Su-30 MKI fighter pilot before being appointed to the MiG-21 Bison squadron. Talking about his family life, Abhinandan is married to a retired IAF Squadron leader and he lives in Chennai. He has 2 children.