Mi-17 Case: Army Tribunal Stays Action Against 2 IAF Officers

The probe found that the ‘Identification of Friend or Foe’ (IFF) system on-board the helicopter was switched off.

1 min read
 MI-17 chopper’s wreckage in Budgam, Jammu and Kashmir.

An armed forces tribunal on Monday, 14 September, stayed disciplinary action against two officers who were held responsible for the shooting down of an Mi-17 helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Budgam area of Kashmir on 27 February 2019, the day Indian and Pakistani air forces were engaged in a dogfight, reported news agency PTI.

Advocate Ankur Chibber, the lawyer of two IAF officers told PTI that disciplinary action has been initiated by the Indian Air Force against Group Captain SR Chowdhary and Wing Commander Shyam Naithani based on a Court of Inquiry.

A high-level probe by the IAF revealed that a surface-to-air missile brought down the chopper, killing at least seven people.

The probe 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. The IFF helps air defence radars identify whether an aircraft or helicopter is friendly or hostile.

“Both the officers had challenged the court of inquiry as well as its findings on the grounds of violation of rule 156 sub clause two of air force rules,” Chibber said, adding they also questioned composition of the Court of Inquiry, PTI reported.

In an annual press conference in October last year, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had called the incident a “big mistake” and promised action against those found guilty.

(With inputs from PTI)

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