Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhaduria at a press conference described as a "big mistake" the shooting down of its helicopter in Kashmir on February 27. The helicopter was shot down when the Indian MIGs and the PAF's F-16 were engaged in a dog fight.

The helicopter, an MI-17 was shot down by a SPYDER air defense missile system bought from Israel and six officers were killed. The missile system was defending the Srinagar air force base. The Air Chief who has just taken over from Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa as the IAF chief said that steps have been taken to ensure such incidents do not take place in the future.

India Today has reported that the ACM also mentioned that a Court of Inquiry into the incident has been completed and two officers have been found guilty and will be punished.

Loss of MI-17

The MI-17 is a versatile helicopter that is also used as a gunship. It has been in service with the IAF for over 3 decades. On that fateful day, it was hovering over Budgam airfield. The Air Force personnel manning the SPYDER missile system was tasked to keep the airbase safe from any attack by the PAF. The officers mistook the MI-17 as a Pakistani missile and fired the missile.

The aircraft was lost the moment it was hit and caught fire before crashing. Six Air Force officers were killed. The Air Chief has just taken over has admitted the mistake at a press conference. The Economic Times has reported that the MI-17 was mistaken as a Pakistan unmanned drone.

Dog-fight

The dogfight between the IAF and PAF planes can be considered a draw as the PAF lost an F-16 and the IAF a MIG 21(BIS). The pilot of the IAF plane parachuted down in Pakistan occupied Kashmir(POK) and was taken POW. He was repatriated a few days later.

Balakot strike

Prior to this, the IAF had carried out a successful attack on the Balakot training camp in POK and as per the latest information over 200 terrorists were killed. The Pakistan Air Force had launched a reprisal raid but it did not bring any results and the PAF planes offloaded their bombs on mountains and fields. The Balakot strike was launched after a suicide bomber had targeted a para-military soldiers' convey and 42 paramilitary soldiers were killed. This was on the highway from Jammu to Srinagar.

The soldiers belonged to the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force). The Jaish-e- Mohammed an Islamic terror group based in Pakistan claimed credit for the attack.

Last word

The Air Chief, at his press conference, also mentioned that the induction of the Rafale fighters from France and the S400 missile system from Russia which has also been purchased by Turkey would strengthen the IAF capability. He also assured that remedial measures have been taken to obviate any similar incident taking place like the downing of the MI-17.

The Court of Inquiry has been completed and two officers found guilty would be punished. During his interaction with the press, the chief did not specify whether they will face administrative action or a disciplinary action like a court martial.

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