New Delhi: The Centre Tuesday dismissed three Indian Air Force (IAF) officers, including a group captain, for accidentally misfiring a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that had found its way into Pakistani territory in March.
The three officers found primarily responsible for the incident, following a court of inquiry (CoI), also includes a commanding officer of the BrahMos unit.
“A BrahMos missile was accidentally fired on 9 March 2022. A Court of Inquiry (Col), set
up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found
that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by three officers led to the
accidental firing of the missile,” a statement released by the IAF said, adding that the officers were terminated with immediate effect.
The incident was first flagged on 10 March by the Pakistani military that claimed the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile came from Haryana’s Sirsa area and was headed for Rajasthan’s Mahajan Field Range before straying off course to the west and entering Pakistan’s airspace.
At the time, Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar had also said that no civilian casualties were reported from the incident, but claimed the missile was flying at 40,000 feet and “endangered” the safety of several planes in Pakistani airspace.
Technical malfunction had led to accidental firing
Sources in the Indian defence establishment later countered Pakistan’s claims about the path of the missile and said it was a “practice” unarmed version of the weapon.
“In the course of routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile. The Government of India has taken a serious view and ordered a high-level court of enquiry,” the Ministry of Defence had stated in March.
The incident had surprised several defence sources at the time because the latest versions of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile have a longer range of 400km and higher safety mechanisms compared to previous iterations of the long-range weapon.
“The missile has multiple geo-locations of targets fed into the system, which need to be selected or new ones added. Then there are multiple steps of clearance, including the entry of certain codes before the countdown starts, after which the missile goes into auto mode,” sources had told ThePrint in March.