Srinagar: Investigators have found that an Indian air defence missile was fired shortly before the crash of a Mi17 V5 helicopter at Budgam, near Srinagar on February 27, which resulted in the deaths of six air force personnel and a civilian on ground. The investigators are examining the sequence of events which preceded the crash, Economic Times reported.
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. The air force brass, highly placed sources told ET, has made it clear that it would not shy away from initiating court martial proceedings against personnel if they are found blameworthy in the inquiry.
ET has learnt that 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. Sources said that the missile – believed to be of Israeli origin – was activated after an air defence alert was sounded over Jammu and Kashmir, besides other parts of the border, after over 25 Pakistani air force jets were detected along the border on the morning of February 27.
The alert, sources said, indicated that Pakistani jets may be trying to breach the border for a strike on Indian military targets and there were concerns that armed UAVs available with that country may also have been deployed. A slow moving target like the Mi 17 V 5 helicopter could potentially be mistaken for a low flying armed UAV homing into an air base, according to these sources.