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IAF Group Captain, Wing Commander Face Court Martial For Budgam Chopper Crash in Friendly Fire

Four other officers - two Air Commodores and two Flight Lieutenants - will also face administrative action in the case for their respective roles in the entire case.

News18.com

Updated:October 14, 2019, 7:01 PM IST
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IAF Group Captain, Wing Commander Face Court Martial For Budgam Chopper Crash in Friendly Fire
Wreckage of the MI-17 chopper that crashed in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir (PTI)

New Delhi: Two Indian Air Force officers will face court-martial for the Mi-17 chopper crash in February this year, in which six of its personnel were killed due to friendly fire by own missile system.

Four other officers - two Air Commodores and two Flight Lieutenants - will also face administrative action in the case for their respective roles in the entire case.

"Two officers including a Group Captain and a Wing Commander would be tried by a court-martial for their lapses in the case due to which six IAF personnel were killed in friendly fire," defence sources told news agency ANI.

This comes just weeks after Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria admitted that the helicopter that crashed in Budgam on February 27, the day Indian and Pakistani air forces were engaged in a fierce dogfight, was hit by an Indian missile.

On the morning of February 27, when Pakistan counter-attacked in response to the Balakot airstrike, the IAF Mi-17 chopper had crashed over Budgam near Srinagar killing all six of its occupants. A civilian on the ground was also killed.

It later emerged that the chopper was hit by a surface-to-air missile of the IAF.

The court of inquiry ordered to probe the crash found there were "vital gaps" in communication and coordination between the ground staff and the crew of the chopper. It also found violations of standard operating procedures.

Bhadauria had said, "Court of Inquiry has completed and it was our mistake as our missile had hit our own chopper."

The chopper of the Srinagar-based 154 Helicopter Unit had crashed within 10 minutes of taking off even as a dogfight raged over 100 kilometres away between intruding Pakistani jets and the IAF, in which Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was involved.

The helicopter was flown by squadron leader Siddharth Vashisht with other members squadron leader Ninad Mandvgane, Kumar Pandey, sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat, corporals Deepak Pandey and Pankaj Kumar.

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