Fire fighters douse flames at the site where an MI-17 chopper of the IAF crashed in Budgam
File photo of fire fighters dousing flames at the site where an MI-17 chopper of the IAF crashed in Budgam | PTI Photo | S Irfan
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New Delhi: The black box of the Mi-17 V-5 helicopter that crashed in Budgam on 27 February, while the Indian and Pakistani air forces were locked in a dogfight 100 km away, is missing, a top Indian Air Force (IAF) source told ThePrint.

Six IAF personnel and a civilian were killed in the crash.

The black box is a crucial piece of evidence in any investigation into crashes as it stores communication and other information recorded during the flight.

Top IAF officers told ThePrint that the black box had been missing since the day of the crash itself. It is feared that the black box of the Mi-17 V-5 was stolen by one of the people who gathered at the site after the helicopter crashed.

“When our teams reached the spot, there were too many civilians all around who had a field run,” said one IAF officer.

“After the immediate retrieval of bodies, the IAF team focussed on collecting items that would be needed for the inquiry. Somebody from the crowd had taken off with the flight data recorder,” the officer told ThePrint.

With the flight data recorder missing, the Court of Inquiry investigating the crash is said to be relying on witness statements and technical analysis of other components of the helicopter.

According to the IAF officer, technical members of the Court of Inquiry are in Bengaluru with the helicopter’s components for investigation by the National Aerospace Laboratories.

IAF sources told ThePrint that the Court of Inquiry was at a very “crucial stage”, adding that statements of a number of witnesses, including IAF personnel, had been recorded.

“We have an idea about how the incident has taken place. But the Court of Inquiry will look into all issues with a fine comb before fixing responsibility,” the officer said.

“Rest assured, the IAF will not shy away from taking severe action in this case,” the officer quoted above said.


Also read: The India-Pakistan air battle of 27 Feb — facts we know & questions that remain unanswered


Victim of friendly fire?

There has been immense speculation since the day of the crash about the circumstances that led to it.

ThePrint had reported last month about suspicions that the chopper was brought down by friendly fire, that is, a weapon fired by Indian forces.

Preliminary findings of the Court of Inquiry also suggest the same. The helicopter took off and crashed within the same 10-minute window when the air skirmish was underway 100 km away. At the time, the region’s airbases and military installations were on hair-trigger alert, following reports of Pakistan Air Force planes flying into Indian territory.

Sources say that a Spyder short-range surface-to-air missile was fired.

The helicopter crash was the third within days involving IAF aircraft. The IAF is already in the process of finishing a Court of Inquiry into the Mirage 2000 crash that killed two personnel on 1 February, while another is investigating the midair collision of two Hawk jet trainers during Aero India rehearsals that killed one pilot on 19 February.


Also read: Mi-17 IAF chopper crash in Budgam could be the result of friendly fire


 

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10 Comments Share Your Views

10 COMMENTS

  1. The fact is that poor Mi Helicopter was shot down by PAF JF 17 jets missiles which were targeting the IAF SU 30. The Indian SU 30 dodged the missile and poor helicopter came in the line of fire. The black box has all this information and hence will never be found !!!!

  2. When the chopper fell down, chopper parts were burning. How can villagers come and steal the black box from there. Is Air Force learning from Modi how to lie to hide the facts ?

  3. IAF saying lie since involved in Feb dog fight, pAF totaly out class it, 2 jets lost in open fight and in desperation shoot misile on choper ,great blunder, now trying to hide reality , world already knows it.

    • LOL…who told lies, the world knows…First your general Gafoori told to media that 2 pilot are captured, then suddenly change it’s statement when found the reality that one of the pilot who was hospitalized was from PAF…Now as far as hiding reality goes, every army hides reality one way or another like PAF is hiding the reality of the destroyed F-16, PAK ARMY hiding the reality of total army killed in India during kargil war or hiw many civilians they hv killed or how many Pashtun women they are raped in Waziristan and balochistan

  4. They are hiding something so they want to hide black box aswell.never. in history has black box been stolen by villagers why should tbey stole it.it is securely fixed and witjin no time army had came to resue them.come with some other lie

  5. The black box is not a wing blade or a seat that just fell off and someone grabbed it. It’s securely install on the plan. It’s sound fishy and stupid that a villager stole it…for what? Scrape metal? Why did the villagers not took the bigger copter body parts that can actually make them a buck or two? The villager conveniently stole the black box….another lie by politicized IAF to make their fake version of the day more believable and to hide their incompetence.

  6. Some stray thoughts, from a lay person. 2. The personnel manning the missile battery at Srinagar would know for sure whether they had fired a missile(s). Within seconds of launch, they would have had a truly sick feeling in the pit of their stomachs when they realised what they had done. Visuals of the smouldering wreckage were widely available. 3. Any experienced aviator, looking at the crashed chopper would have seen with the naked eye the physical damage caused by a missile strike, like a sledgehammer on an egg shell. Totally different from what happens to the airframe when it hits the ground, intact and is then damaged by impact and fire. 3. The two Squadron Leaders would not have known what hit them. This is a missile designed to take down an enemy jet. A slow moving chopper would be dead meat. So unclear what exceptional information a black box would yield, as in the case of Air France Jet – Flight 447 – that ended up thousands of feet deep in the Atlantic Ocean. 4. Col Ajai Shukla is a true blue fauji, the son of a military officer. He would not make up such a story out of spite or malice. Normally one would have liked to trust an official denial with equal fervour.

    • The BOI has revealed that the chopper had crashed due to missile hit. The report us being kept under wrap till the elections are over

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