An Indian air defence missile was fired shortly before the crash of a Mi17 V5 helicopter at Budgam, near Srinagar on February 27, the Economic Times reported citing Indian investigators.
At least seven people, including six security forces personnel were killed when as Indian helicopter Mi-17 V5 crashed in Indian occupied Kashmir. The incident came as on the same day Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian aircraft inside Pakistani airspace and arrested an Indian pilot on ground.
Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said Indian Air Force (IAF) crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and two of their aircraft were shot down by PAF inside Pakistani airspace.
“One of the aircraft fell inside AJK while other fell inside IoK,” he added.
According to the report, the final moments preceding the crash, including if the IFF (Identity, Friend or Foe) systems were switched on or not, are being carefully looked at to determine what went wrong.
Sources in the air force told ET they have made it clear that it would not shy away from initiating court-martial proceedings against personnel if they are found blameworthy in the inquiry, the report further said.
The focus of the investigation now is to determine if multiple layers of safeguards meant to protect assets from friendly fire failed and how systems need to be improved to prevent any such incident in the future, ET said, adding the missile – believed to be of Israeli origin – was activated after an air defence alert was sounded over Indian occupied Kashmir, besides other parts of the border, after over 25 PAF jets were detected along the border on the morning of February 27.
The investigation further stated the alert indicated that low flying UAVs also might cross the border and it was possible that a slow-moving target like the Mi 17 V5 helicopter could have been mistaken for a UAV. It added, the Air Force might conduct an inquiry into the matter.
“When an air defence alert is sounded, several things take place. There are a set of rules that transport aircraft and helicopters need to follow and there are set entry and egress routes demarcated for aircraft flying. Also, aircraft are to switch on their IFF (Identify, Friend or Foe) systems,” sources told the newspaper.
They added that all angles are being probed to determine if lapses took place and where. A senior officer is conducting the court of inquiry into the crash and has been given access to all inputs available with ground controllers as well as the actions of the helicopter in the ten minutes that it was in the air.
As reported by ET, the chopper crashed in the 10-minute span when IAF jets were engaged in an aerial battle with the Pakistan Air Force fighters, along the Line of Control in the Nowshera sector. At that time air defence systems were on operational alert. Command and control systems were under immense pressure as reports of attempted intrusions were sounded along the border.