How fear of PAF has taken over heads and minds of Indian Air Force?
New Delhi: Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, on Friday, for the first time, officially admitted that an Indian Air Force missile had shot down its own Mi-17 helicopter in Kashmir on February 27, calling it a “big mistake.”
Earlier media reports that the IAF's air defence missile had shot down an Mi-17 helicopter in Budgam in the Kashmir Valley minutes after Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft had entered Indian air space on February 27 were mostly based on state sources.
The incident had resulted in the death of seven people, including six IAF personnel on board and a civilian on the ground.
“This was a mistake, a big mistake. We admit that,” said Air Chief Bhadauria about the incident. He said that the court of inquiry on the incident has recently been completed. “The helicopter was hit by our own missile. This has been established,” said the Air Chief.
He said that the IAF has taken administrative action against two officers and disciplinary action will also be taken in the future following due process. Air Chief Bhadauria said that those who were killed on the copter will be treated as battle casualties and awards will be given to their families. “Necessary steps have been taken so that these things are not repeated,” said Air Chief Bhadauria.
The helicopter was hit by the missile when it was approaching the airbase and was in contact with the air traffic control (ATC).
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had entered Indian air space near Nowshera to bomb military installations in retaliation to an airstrike carried out by the IAF at terror camps in Balakot.
According to sources, the investigation report said that the Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) system on-board the helicopter was switched off and there was a “vital gap” in communication and co-ordination between the ground staff and the crew on the chopper.
Despite being in touch with the ATC, it was hit by missiles as the weapon operators thought it was an unmanned aircraft.
The IFF helps air defence radar identify whether an aircraft or helicopter is friendly or hostile.
The Mi-17 V-5 chopper had crashed within 10 minutes of taking off, as Pakistan Air Force and IAF aircraft were involved in a dog fight.