NEW DELHI: Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Friday confirmed that the helicopter which crashed on February 27, during a dogfight with Pakistani forces, was hit by an Indian missile. Calling it a “big mistake”, the Air Chief said, “The court of inquiry completed the probe last week. It has been established that it was hit by our own missile.” There has already been administrative action and disciplinary action will be taken in the future against the two Air Force personnel responsible, he added.
A Mi-17 V5 copter of the 154 Helicopter Unit crashed in Budgam on February 27 as it was hit by India’s SPYDER air-defence missile killing six IAF personnel. It came as Pakistan fighter jets violated Indian air space and tried to hit military installations, but were chased away by IAF fighters. This occurred a day after India struck at Balakot inside Pakistan in response to the Islamabad-linked Pulwama terror attack.
There were questions about the ‘Identification of Friend or Foe’ system being switched off in contravention to orders and protocol to keep them on. Had it been on, the Indian radars would have identified the copter one of their own.
The inquiry also asked why the copter was asked to return to the base, as it was while coming back that it was hit. The usual practice is that during an alert, such aircraft are confined to airspace designated safe. The IAF is considering designating the officers and airmen who died as ‘battle casualties’.
Fifth-gen fighter jet to be developed in India
Giving a push to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Friday strongly backed indigenous development of a fifth-generation fighter jet. “There are no plans for importing a fifth-generation jet. The AMCA project (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) is being given the go-ahead. We have given full support to it. The programme is now taking off,” the IAF chief said. He also added that the Air Force will induct the indigenously developed Astra missile system