Serious flaws on operations of Indian nuclear missile system revealed in initial inquiry report
The IAF is conducting the mandatory court of inquiry into the accidental firing of a Brahmos missile which crashed into Pakistan and a few officers including a Group Captain may be held responsible. An Air Vice Marshal is heading the investigation.
Giving this information here on Wednesday, sources, however, said these are the initial pointers and the final result of the court of inquiry will take some more days. The accident took place on March 9 when the supersonic cruise missile fired from a base near Sirsa crashed into Mian Channu in Pakistan after travelling a distance of nearly 140 kms. However, there were no casualties on the ground and the Indian government said it had viewed it seriously “deeply regretted it.”
In fact, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh gave a statement in Parliament on March 15 narrating the sequence of events. In this backdrop, the Air Vice Marshal was appointed to conduct the inquiry, sources said adding he is very experienced and highly qualified.
In his statement in Parliament, Rajnath had said “A missile was unfortunately accidentally launched on March 9. The incident occurred during a routine inspection. We later came to know that it had landed in Pakistan.”
Informing Parliament that a high level probe was initiated, the defence minister assured the members the missile system is trustworthy and the armed forces are fully competent to handle such systems.
He said during inspection. During routine maintenance and inspection, a missile was accidentally released at around 7 p.m.
It was later learnt that the missile had landed inside the territory of Pakistan.
“While this incident is regretted, we are relieved that nobody was hurt due to the accident. I would like to inform the august House that Government has taken serious note of the incident.
A formal high level inquiry has been ordered. The inquiry would determine the exact cause of the said accident. I would also like to state that a review of the Standard Operating Procedures for operations, maintenance and inspections is being conducted in the wake of this incident. We attach highest priority to safety and security of our weapon systems. If any shortcoming is found, the same would be immediately rectified.
I can assure the House that the missile system is very reliable & safe. Moreover, our safety procedures and protocols are of the highest order and are reviewed from time to time. Our Armed Forces are well-trained and disciplined and are well experienced in handling such systems,” he said.
Pakistan had lodged a strong protest against the reported accidental firing of the missile and summoned the Indian Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad.
It also called for a joint probe and China backed it. However, the US said it was accident and the Indian defence ministry had given the details. “We have no indication, as you also heard from our Indian partners, that this incident was anything other than an accident," State Department spokesperson Ned Price had said..
China’s Foreign Ministry, responding to a question from Pakistani media about the incident, said it “called on relevant countries to have dialogue and communication as soon as possible and launch a thorough investigation into this incident, strengthen information–sharing and establish a notification mechanism in time to ensure the non-recurrence of such incidents and prevent miscalculation.”
Pakistan termed the Indian defence ministry statement regretting the accident as a “simplistic explanation” while calling for a joint probe.
Major General Babar Iftikhar, the Director-General of the Inter-Service
Public Relations (ISPR) of Pakistan, had claimed that an unarmed projectile launched from India entered the Pakistani airspace travelling 124 km and fell near Mian Channu. No loss of life was reported.
Noting that the missile that landed in Pakistan was fired "accidentally" due to a technical malfunction, the Indian defence ministry had said it had also ordered a Court of Enquiry into the incident.