Probe stepped up into crashing of IAF’s Mi-17 helicopter; chopper had crashed a day after Balakot air strikes during a dogfight with PAF

The Air Officer Commanding of Srinagar base has been shifted by the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a court of inquiry conducts investigations into the crash of a Mi-17 helicopter in Budgam due to suspected friendly fire on February 27, a day after India bombed a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.

The helicopter crashed in Budgam on February 27 while Indian and Pakistani fighter jets were engaged in an aerial battle. The Pakistani Air Force had tried to target various Indian military installations in Kashmir on February 27 but was not successful.

Sources said officials responsible for the crash will face stern punishment as per provisions of the military law. The senior-most official of the Srinagar base was removed to ensure impartial probe into the crash, the sources said.

Sources said the Court of Inquiry (CoI) was also specifically focusing on examining 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 which could include charging the guilty with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

The sources said the CoI was also examining whether the Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) system onboard the helicopter was switched off.

The IFF helps air defence radars to identify whether an aircraft or helicopter is friendly or hostile.