NEW DELHI: The Mi-17 IAF helicopter that crashed in Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir on February 27, the day Indian and Pakistani air forces were engaged in a fierce dogfight, was hit by an Indian missile, according to a high-level probe that found at least four officers guilty.
Six military personnel and a civilian were killed in the incident.
At least four officers, including a group captain, were held responsible for the crash of the chopper in the friendly fire and are set to face severe punishment, military sources said on Friday.
There is no immediate comment from the Indian Air Force on the findings of the probe.
The IAF headquarters had ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the incident under an Air Commodore-ranked officer.
The probe found that the 'Identification of Friend or Foe' (IFF) system on-board the helicopter was switched off and there was a "vital gap" in communication and coordination between the ground staff and the crew of the chopper.
The IFF helps air defence radars identify whether an aircraft or helicopter is friendly or hostile.
"The guilty personnel will face severe punishment as per provisions of the military law," said a source, adding that the IAF top brass will decide on the quantum of punishment to those held responsible for the incident.
In early May, the IAF transferred the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) of Srinagar base to ensure a thorough probe into the incident.
The helicopter crashed in Budgam on February 27 when Indian and Pakistani fighter jets were engaged in aerial combat, a day after India's airstrike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan.
The Pakistani Air Force unsuccessfully attempted to target various Indian military installations in Kashmir on February 27.
Sources said the CoI was also specifically focusing on examining the role of various people, including those controlling the air defence system when the helicopter was hit by a surface-to-air missile.
They said the IAF will initiate action based on the report of the CoI.
This could include charging the guilty with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the sources added.