Six Indian Air Force officers to face action for their roles in the Mi-17 chopper crash
Two Indian Air Force (IAF) officers among six officials, found guilty for the crash of a MI 17 helicopter over Srinagar on February 27 when India and Pakistan were engaged in a short aerial battle, will face administrative action.
A Mi17 V5 chopper crashed at Budgam near Srinagar on February 27 morning, killing all six of its occupants. Later, it emerged that the helicopter was brought down by own air defence missile system SPYDER deployed at the Srinagar airbase.
A Court of Inquiry, which completed its probe into the case late last month, had confirmed lapses and mistakes by officials.
The inquiry found that the officers who handled SPYDER confused the helicopter with an incoming missile. Crashed 10 minutes after it took off, the chopper that belonged to the 154 Helicopter Unit broke in two parts and caught fire.
“Two officers, including a Group Captain and a Wing Commander, would be tried by a court-martial for their lapses in the case due to which six IAF personnel were killed in friendly fire.”
The crash took place in the backdrop of heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. On February 26, the Indian Air Force fighters had bombed a terror camp at Balakot in the Pakistani territory in response to the Pulwama attack on February 14.
On October 4, IAF chief RKS Bhadauria had admitted that the Mi-17 chopper crash was a “big mistake” on the part of the Air Force.
“It was a big mistake on our part. We accept it,” the Air Chief had said while revealing that a Court of Inquiry had established lapses.
“We are extremely sorry. It was a big blunder,” Bhadauria had said, adding: “Our missile hit (the helicopter). This has been established. Administrative action and disciplinary action is being taken. Necessary steps are being taken so such incidents don’t repeat. Those killed will be considered battle casualties.”.
Former IAF chief BS Dhanoa had earlier said that the IAF needed to learn lessons from this case.
The chopper was flown by squadron leader Siddharth Vashisht, squadron leader Ninad Mandvgane, Kumar Pandey, sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat, corporals Pankaj Kumar and Deepak Pandey.