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‘Hit by our own missile’: Indian air force chief says downed helicopter’s friend-or-foe system was off during clash with Pakistan

‘Hit by our own missile’: Indian air force chief says downed helicopter’s friend-or-foe system was off during clash with Pakistan
New Delhi’s air force chief has confirmed that an Indian helicopter was brought down by one of the country’s own missiles during a skirmish with Pakistan back in February, when the two sides clashed in the skies over Kashmir.

The country’s newly appointed Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria has offered the first official ‘mea culpa’ on Friday following a probe into the friendly fire mishap, which killed 6 air force personnel and one civilian on the ground in Kashmir’s Budgam district.

It has been established that the helicopter was hit by our own missile. We have already taken administrative action. Disciplinary action is being taken against two officers.

“We admit that it was a big mistake and necessary steps have been taken so that such incident does not recur,” the air chief added.

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The ill-fated Mi-17 V5 helicopter was shot down as New Delhi was repelling a Pakistani air assault that followed Indian strikes on a terrorist training camp in Balakot, Pakistan. Just 10 minutes into its mission the chopper was recalled to its base in Srinagar due to dog fight in the area, but was mistaken for an enemy craft on its way back and brought down with a surface-to-air missile.

Two senior officers were disciplined for their role in the February 27 accident, while four others face “administrative action” as a result of a Court of Inquiry probe which found “vital gaps” in communications and violations of operating procedures. The probe found that the helicopter’s Friend-or-Foe identification system had been switched off, creating confusion for Indian personnel on the ground.

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