An Indian Air Force court of inquiry has confirmed that the February 27, 2019 chopper crash in Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir was caused by friendly fire. The inquiry confirmed that an Indian missile shot down the IAF chopper in a friendly fire incident and 5 officers have been accused in the case.
The incident happened at a time when the Indian air defence was on high-alert in the wake of Pakistani retaliation on India’s Balakot airstrikes. Following India’s dare-devilry, Pakistan had scrambled its fleet of fighter jets to target the Indian Army installations in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the attack was thwarted by the Indian Air Force’s fighter jets deployed to chase down the enemy aircraft.
The chopper was reportedly shot down at the same time when Indian and Pakistani jets were involved in a dogfight over Jammu and Kashmir. 5 officers have been held guilty by the court of inquiry and the report has been sent to the Air Force Headquarters for further action.
After the crash of the chopper, initially Pakistan had tried to claim that they had shot it down, but soon it became clear that the aircraft became the unfortunate target of its own forces. The Indian Air Force had already accepted that it was a case of friendly fire, which has been confirmed by the court of inquiry now.
According to the sources, the officers were found guilty of negligence and not adhering to the recommended procedures. The guilty officers include one Group Captain, two Wing Commanders and two Flight Lieutenants. The responsible officers violated several standard operating procedures, and the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system also did not work on that day. It was reported earlier that the officers can face the charges of culpable homicide.
The Mi-17 V-5 helicopter was on a routine shuttle flight from the Srinagar airbase when it was shot down by an Israeli origin Spyder air defence system. All the onboard crew of the Mi-17 chopper died in the incident. The helicopter was flown by squadron leader Siddharth Vashisht with other members squadron leader Ninad Mandvgane, Kumar Pandey, sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat, corporals Deepak Pandey and Pankaj Kumar. In addition to the six IAF officers, a civilian on the ground also lost his life.