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2 IAF officers face court-martial, 4 others administrative action for shooting down of Mi-17 chopper

Two Indian Air Force (IAF) officers will face court-martial for the Mi-17 chopper crash in which six of its personnel were killed due to friendly fire by own missile system on February 27 over Srinagar.

2 IAF officers face court-martial, 4 others administrative action for shooting down of Mi-17 chopper

New Delhi: Two Indian Air Force (IAF) officers will face court-martial for the Mi-17 chopper crash in which six of its personnel were killed due to friendly fire by own missile system on February 27 over Srinagar.

As many as four other officers will also face administrative action in the case which includes two Air Commodores (equivalent to Army Brigadiers) and two Flight Lieutenants (Captain equivalents in Army) for their respective roles in the entire case.

"Two officers including a Group Captain and a Wing Commander would be tried by a court-martial for their lapses in the case due to which six IAF personnel were killed in friendly fire," defence sources told news agency ANI.

On the morning of February 27, when Pakistan counter-attacked in response to the Balakot airstrike, an IAF Mi-17 chopper crashed over Budgam area near Srinagar killing all six of its occupants. It was revealed that the chopper was hit by its own air defence system SPYDER deployed in Srinagar.

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The chopper of the Srinagar-based 154 Helicopter Unit crashed within 10 minutes of taking off even as a dogfight raged over 100 kilometres away between intruding Pakistani jets and the IAF, in which Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was also involved.

Six IAF personnel onboard and a civilian on the ground had lost their lives in the crash. Soon after taking over, newly-appointed IAF chief RKS Bhadauria had stated that the Mi-17 chopper crash on February 27 was a "big mistake" on part of the Air Force.

Earlier, Bhadauria had said, "Court of Inquiry has completed and it was our mistake as our missile had hit our own chopper."

The fateful Mi-17 helicopter was shot down by an Indian missile when Indian air defences were on high alert following the February 26 Balakot airstrike that targetted a terrorist camp in Pakistan. 

The helicopter crashed near Budgam, killing all six Indian Air Force personnel on board. The helicopter was flown by squadron leader Siddharth Vashisht with other members squadron leader Ninad Mandvgane, Kumar Pandey, sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat, corporals Deepak Pandey and Pankaj Kumar.