Shooting Down Our Own Mi-17 in Budgam a ‘Big Mistake’: IAF Chief
Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, addressing his first press conference as the new chief of the Indian Air Force on Friday, 4 October, said that it was a “big mistake” on IAF’s part to shoot down its own Mi-17 helicopter in Budgam on 27 February this year.
The probe into the incident found that the 'Identification of Friend or Foe' (IFF) system on-board the helicopter was switched off and there were "vital gaps" in communication and coordination between the ground staff and the crew of the chopper. It also found violations of standard operating procedures.
In the press conference he said that the operational preparedness of the IAF has been of a very high order and it achieved a number of operational milestones last year, including the Balakot strikes.
The IAF Chief added that the Mirage 2000, MiG-29 Jaguar, Mi-17 V5 aircraft were in the process of receiving midlife upgrades to improve their operational capabilities. Partial upgrades to the Su-30 MKIs are also planned, he said.
He refused to comment on the Rafale pricing controversy.
Rakesh Bhadauria took charge as the 26th Chief of Air Staff on Monday, succeeding former Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, who retired after 41 years of service in the IAF.
Air Marshal Harjit Singh Arora took charge as Vice Chief of the Air Staff, the very next day on 1 October.
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he won the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ for standing first in the overall order of merit.
Bhadauria has also commanded a Jaguar squadron, a premier Air Force Station and has 4,250 hours of flying experience on 26 types of fighters and transport aircraft. He is one of the few Air Force pilots to fly a Rafale jet.