5 IAF Officers Held Guilty of Shooting Down Own Chopper

An IAF court of inquiry has found five officers of the Indian Air Force guilty of shooting down its Mi-17 V5 helicopter, which was flying over Srinagar with 6 IAF personnel on February 27, a day after the Balakot strikes.

The inquiry found that the chopper was brought down by friendly fire from the Spyder air defence missile system. The IAF court found a Group Captain, two Wing Commanders and two Flight Lieutenants guilty of negligence and not following correct procedure while shooting down the helicopter, a source said. The inquiry found that the officers who handled the air defence system at the Srinagar air base mistook the helicopter, returning midway from a mission, for an incoming missile.

The helicopter belonging to the Srinagar based 154 Helicopter Unit crashed within 10 minutes after takeoff, even as a dogfight took place at the J&K border air corridor between the IAF and Pakistan Air Force. The Indian air defence systems were on high alert since the Balakot air strikes.

The court of inquiry was delayed as the helicopter’s black box had to be retrieved from villagers in Budgam. Besides the six IAF personnel, a civilian too died when the helicopter crashed.

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