Srinagar, May 21: Senior Indian Air Force (IAF) officer and three others are likely to face strict disciplinary action for lapses that led to the crash of Mi-17 helicopter at Budgam on February 27 because of the “friendly fire”, reported The Times of India. The accident took place at 10:10 am on the day when Indian and Pakistani fighter jets were engaged in aerial combat. Indian Missile May Have Mistakenly Hit IAF Mi-17 Chopper in Budgam Following Air Space Violation by Pakistani Fighter Jets on February 27: Report.
The IAF said that the Court of Inquiry into the crash is still in progress. “We cannot say anything till the CoI reaches a conclusion… it is premature,” reported TOI quoting spokesperson Group Captain Anupam Banerjee as saying. However, according to various reports, On February 27, an Israeli-made SPYDER surface-to-air missile was fired and within 12 seconds of the launch, the Mi-17 chopper crashed. IAF Squadron Leader Ninad Mandavgane, Martyred in Budgam Crash, Laid To Rest With Full Military Honours.
According to the TOI report, the air officer commanding (AOC) of the Srinagar base - an Air Commodore - has already been transferred out, while the role of the second-in-command - the chief operations officer (COO) - is being examined closely. The CoI is examining why the Air Traffic Control (ATC) call the Mi-17 back to the Srinagar base 10 minutes after its take off? and why the helicopter’s IFF (Identity, Friend or Foe) transponder system was switched off which is also a violation of the protocol?
The IFF system would have allowed the radars to identify it as “friendly” aircraft, the report claimed. The CoI is also probing who gave the final order to fire the missile”. After the panel completes its investigation, it will frame charges against the offenders.
The IFF is a radar-based identification system designed for command and control. It uses a transponder that listens for an interrogation signal and then sends a response consisting of a unique signal that identifies the broadcaster. It enables military and civilian air traffic control interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator. IAF Says Pakistani F-16 Was Shot Down in February 27 Dogfight, Refutes US Media Report.
On February 27, Mi17 V5 chopper was crashed. In the crash, six IAF personnel – Wing Commander Sidharth Sharma, Squadron Leader Ninad Mandavgane, Sergeant Vikrant Sherawat, Corporal Deepak Pandey, Corporal Pankaj Kumar and engineer Vishal Kumar Pandey were killed. A civilian also lost his life in the incident.