The crash site of the Mi 17 chopper in Srinagar | ANI Photos
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New Delhi: A senior Indian Air Force (IAF) officer and three other personnel of the Srinagar Air Base could be booked for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” in the 27 February crash of a Mi-17 helicopter that killed six IAF personnel and a civilian, highly-placed sources told ThePrint.

The crash, which took place while the Indian defence forces were on hair-trigger alert in light of an incursion by Pakistan Air Force planes, has almost been confirmed as a result of friendly fire, the sources added.

The report about possible action against IAF personnel comes even as the Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the incident is still underway. The inquiry will shortly move to the next step, ‘summary of evidence’, which is akin to a chargesheet.

The inquiry is said to be looking into the role of the Terminal Weapons Director (TWD) of the airbase, who cleared the launch of the missile. The sources said the Chief Operations Officer (COO) was in charge at that point of time.

The probe seeks to find out whether the order was issued by the officer concerned on phone or if he was present in the control room.

“The IAF is very clear that whoever is guilty will face the music,” a senior officer told ThePrint. “They could be charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder but this has not been established yet,” the officer said.

Meanwhile, according to the sources, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) of the Srinagar Air Base, the most senior officer of the base, has been moved out as part of the probe into the crash.

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The AOC, the sources added, was moved out immediately after the incident to ensure an impartial probe.

‘Lack of coordination’

Sources told ThePrint that at the time the chopper was hit by a missile fired by the Israeli-made Spyder air defence system, it had been in contact with air traffic control (ATC) as it was approaching the air base.

“The ATC was in touch with the helicopter and knew it was coming back. However, the weapon operators fired because they felt it was an unmanned aircraft coming their way,” one of the sources told ThePrint. “There was lack of coordination. These are some of the issues that the CoI is looking into.”

It has been learnt that the IAF’s Barnala-based Integrated Air Command & Control System (IACCS), which is tasked with monitoring incoming aircraft from Pakistan, had not designated the helicopter a ‘Red’, the classification for enemy aircraft.

The helicopter’s Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) — a transponder-based identification system — was switched off. However, sources said the system was switched off because it interferes with civilian aircraft transmissions, and because the aircraft could be identified by the enemy during battle.

A number of interviews with service personnel and video recordings are being used to identify the cause and lapses that led to the incident.


Also read: Spate of chopper crashes raises questions on crew safety and training


 

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6 Comments Share Your Views

6 COMMENTS

  1. In any case it is a serious issue and needs to be dealt with accordingly. However making it a criminal case against very officerrs working under those trying conditions ( war like politically hyped situation) where things ran against time and situational pressure, is not in a correct perspective. Serious disciplinary and relevant administrative actions should suffice.

  2. Then…Who stole the black box?? The fact remains that this helicopter was in the line of fire of PAF JF 17 missiles which were fired at SU 30. It seems the SU 30 were lucky to dodge but this poor helicopter was not. It was the loss of a Mig & this helicopter in a period of 15 minutes that forced IAF not to escalate the air conflict on Feb. 27th.

  3. You see it’s not simple case of mismanagement nor it should be treated as one. Why not Air chief be booked. Why defence minister not booked. Their was so much interference by PM and his govt the hype to strike to gather votes. The airforce was not given time to go into details. So all in all All of them should be held responsible.

    • So if a police inspector, in an encounter ends up killing a few innocent civilians, should the SP, IG, DGP, state home minister, chief minister, and union home minister should be all booked as well?
      Air force was not given time? For what ?

      • You can add GOD in your list too . But the fact remain what Ranjuhundal said that the too much Government interference ware involved for votes only … So he has a case here … As far as extra judicial killings is concerned the Answer is yes if any of the post you mention ware involved in decision making …

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