IAF commander removed over February 27 Budgam Mi-17 helicopter crash: Report

It said that the AOC has been removed because the incident happened on his watch.
IAF commander removed over February 27 Budgam Mi-17 helicopter crash: Report
Soldiers gather at the scene of the air crash in Budgam on February 27. GK file image: Habib Naqash

Indian Air Force (IAF) has removed the Air OfficerCommanding (AOC) Srinagar Air Base, the senior-most officer of the base, inwake of the investigations going on into the crash of Mi-17 helicopter inBudgam district in central Kashmir on February 27 this year.

"IAF is considering whether or not it should slap criminalcharges against those found lacking. Culpable homicide not amounting to murderis one of the charges that IAF is contemplating pressing against those foundguilty by the CoI," Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.

The report quoting a senior defence ministry official saidthat as unprecedented as it might be, IAF leadership is clear that such lapsesare not repeated and there will be no tolerance of lapses.

It said that the AOC has been removed because the incidenthappened on his watch.

It said that the preliminary inquiry into the accident hasallegedly indicated several lapses leading to the tragic accident. Forinstance, the air traffic control called the helicopter back even as airengagement between Indian and Pakistani fighters intensified.

"Ideally, the helicopter should have been sent away to saferzone instead of it being called back to the base. The incoming helicoptershould have been vectored into the pre-designated zone meant for friendlyaircraft to hold till the alert was called off," the report added.

On February 27, even as Indian and Pakistani jets wereengaged in a dogfight in the Nowshera sector, a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopterof IAF crashed. All six airmen on board the helicopter and a civilian werekilled. The helicopter was downed by a surface-to-air missile of IAF whichmistook the aircraft to be hostile, initial inquiries have revealed.

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