Srinagar: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has removed the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Srinagar Air Base, the senior-most officer of the base, for circumstances related to the crash of an Mi-17 helicopter near Srinagar on February 27 after it came under friendly fire, even as a Court-of-Inquiry (CoI) continues to investigate the matter.
On February 27, a Mi-17 V-5 chopper of the Srinagar-based 154 Helicopter Unit crashed within 10 minutes of taking off even as a dogfight raged over 100 km away between Pakistani Air Force jets and the IAF, in which Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was involved. Six IAF personnel on board and a civilian on the ground were killed.
The initial inquiries have revealed that the helicopter was downed by a surface-to-air missile of IAF which mistook the aircraft to be hostile, initial inquiries have revealed, reported Hindustan Times. All six airmen on board the helicopter were killed.
As the inquiry nears completion, IAF is considering whether or not it should slap criminal charges against those found lacking. “There will be no tolerance of lapses,” HT quoted a senior defence ministry official. Culpable homicide not amounting to murder is one of the charges that IAF is contemplating pressing against those found guilty by the CoI. “Unprecedented as it might be, IAF leadership is clear that such lapses are not repeated,” the official added.The AOC has been removed because the incident happened on his watch.The Mi-17 helicopter — one of the sturdiest in its category — under the command of squadron leader Siddarth Vashistha took off from Srinagar airbase at about 10 am. The air intrusion alert was sounded almost at the same time as Indian fighters took on Pakistani Air Force fighters over Nowshera. The helicopter crashed around 10.10am over Budgam.A civilian was also killed on the ground.