Shooting down our own chopper 'big mistake', says new Indian Air Force chief

Published October 4, 2019
Indian Air Force chief Rakesh Kumar Bhadauria. — Photo via Indian Air Force Twitter
Indian Air Force chief Rakesh Kumar Bhadauria. — Photo via Indian Air Force Twitter

Indian Air Force chief Rakesh Kumar Bhadauria on Friday admitted that the Mi-17 chopper crash on February 27 — the same day as the dogfight between Pakistani and Indian jets — was a "big mistake" on part of the force, reported Indian media.

The Mi-17 helicopter had crashed at Budgam, near Srinagar, and resulted in the deaths of six air force personnel. A surface-to-air missile of the Indian Air Force had brought down the Mi-17 aircraft, a high-level probe had concluded in August, according to The Hindu.

The Indian side had acknowledged the crash but initially made no mention of it in official statements. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, acknowledged the aerial battle over Nowshera but said its fighters were not involved in the chopper incident.

“Mi17 V5 is one of the sturdiest choppers in service across the world and is not usually prone to technical faults of catastrophic nature," Indian business newspaper The Economic Times had reported in March. "Eyewitness reported that a loud explosion was heard in the air before the chopper crashed in a trail of smoke, indicating a possible catastrophic external event contributed to the incident.”

Speaking to the media on Friday, Bhadauria said "it was our mistake as our missile had hit our own chopper".

"Court of Inquiry has completed [...] we will take action against the two officers. We accept this was our big mistake and we will ensure such mistakes are not repeated in the future," India Today quoted him as saying.

Bhadauria, who took charge as the Indian Air Force chief on Monday, said that the air force is also considering designating all personnel killed in air-crash as “battle casualties”, reported Hindustan Times.

An inquiry into the accident had indicated several lapses leading to the tragedy, said the publication: "For instance, the inquiry had faulted the air traffic control for calling back the helicopter as air engagement between Indian and Pakistani fighters intensified.

"Ideally the helicopter should have been sent away to safer zone instead of it being called back to the base. Also, the incoming helicopter should have been vectored to the pre-designated zone that is meant for friendly aircraft to hold till the alert was called off.

"All bases have designated airspace for friendly aircraft in case of an air defence alert," said the Hindustan Times report.

Opinion

Editorial

Another U-turn?
Updated 07 Oct, 2022

Another U-turn?

The PTI’s decision to take back its resignations could herald a twist in the tussle playing out in Islamabad.
Renewed TTP threat
07 Oct, 2022

Renewed TTP threat

THE interior ministry’s call for ‘extreme vigilance’ and instructions to security forces to conduct ‘search...
Women’s gala in GB
07 Oct, 2022

Women’s gala in GB

REGRESSIVE forces, once again, nearly had their way — this time in Gilgit-Baltistan. A three-day sporting gala for...
‘Draconian’ law
06 Oct, 2022

‘Draconian’ law

THE debate over what it means to be ‘sadiq’ and ‘ameen’ has reignited after the incumbent Supreme Court ...
Welcome clarity
Updated 06 Oct, 2022

Welcome clarity

There needs to be consensus amongst all political actors that matters of governance should be the exclusive domain of civilians.
Car purchases
06 Oct, 2022

Car purchases

IF we are in the market to buy a new car, we end up paying a significantly large amount as premium over the sticker...