Two Indian Air Force officers will face court martial proceedings for the friendly fire that shot down a Mi-17 V5 helicopter killing six air force personnel in Srinagar on February 27. The decision comes days after Chief of Air Staff, Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, described the lapses that led to the missile shooting down the IAF chopper as a “big mistake”.
Air Chief Bhaduria had then also spoken of action against two officers for the lapses but hadn’t elaborated.
Apart from the two officers who will face court martial proceedings, people familiar with the developments said, four more IAF personnel will face administrative action.
The Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter was shot down by a surface-to-air missile system around the same time Indian and Pakistani fighter jets were engaging each other over Nowshera in Jammu and Kashmir on 27 February. The Pakistani Air Force, after intruding in Rajouri sector of Jammu region, was attempting a similar misadventure in Uri sector of North Kashmir’s Baramulla around the time the helicopter was airborne from Srinagar airfield.
The Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Srinagar Air Base had been removed earlier.
An inquiry into the incident had indicated lapses at several levels.
For instance, the air traffic control had called back the chopper in the middle of the aerial dogfight between fighters of the Indian and Pakistani air force. The ATC should have vectored away the helicopter or kept in holding at a pre-designated area when an airfield is under attack.
Following a near miss incident in 2018 between a IAF transporter and Su-30Mki fighter, the IAF headquarters had issued express orders to switch on the FOF system for all aircraft coming into land. This instruction was overuled by the base without any explanation
Action is also being taken against officers who ordered for the Friend or Foe Identification, or IFF, to be switched off.
The Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) – a transponder-based identification system developed during World War II – is an instrument within an aircraft that informs the air defence radars whether incoming aircraft is friendly.
Oct 14, 2019 20:52 IST