Mi-17 helicopter crash ‘due to friendly fire, a big mistake’: Air Chief Bhadauria

All 6 men onboard and one civilian on the ground were killed in the crash on February 27, when Indian and Pakistani air forces were engaged in a dogfight.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17 helicopter that crashed on February 27 in Kashmir was due to friendly fire and a big mistake, Air Chief Marshal (ACM) R.K.S. Bhadauria said on Friday.

All six personnel onboard and one civilian on the ground were killed in the crash

This is the first time the IAF has officially acknowledged it.

“It was a big mistake, action being initiated against two IAF personnel,” ACM Bhadauria said at his first press conference as the Chief of the Air Staff ahead of the Air Force Day.

Following the findings of a Court of Inquiry (CoI), corrective measures had been taken to prevent such occurences. Those who lost their lives would be declared battle casualties, said ACM Bhadauria, who took over as the 26th Air Force Chief on September 30 from ACM B.S. Dhanoa.

On February 27 morning, as fighter jets of India and Pakistan were engaged in a dog fight over the Naushera sector, a day after the Balakot air strike, the Mi-17 crashed in Budgam shortly after take-off from Srinagar.

The CoI had confirmed that the copter was shot by an Israeli-origin ground-based Spyder surface-to-air missile of the IAF. It found at least four officers, including a Group Captain, responsible for the crash, defence sources had stated.

The Air Force was prepared to fight at short notice along with the other Services and the acquisition of Rafale fighters and the S-400 air defence systems would significantly enhance its operational capability, ACM Bhadauria said.

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