New Delhi: An investigation into the February 27 Budgam Mi17 V5 helicopter crash revealed that an Indian air defence missile was fired just moments before the chopper crashed near Srinagar, reported The Economic Times. In the crash,six Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel, including two officers lost their lives. A civilian was also killed in the incident. The investigators are probing the sequence of events before the crash to find out whether the IFF (Identity, Friend or Foe) system was switched on or not.
The detailed investigation will be carried out to determine whether the IFF system failed in spite of multiple layers of safeguards which are meant to protect assets from friendly fire. If any discrepancy is found out then measures will be taken to improve the system. According to the report, on February 27, when over 25 Pakistani air force jets were detected along the Indian border, an Israeli origin missile was activated after an air defence alert was sounded over Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the border. IAF Squadron Leader Ninad Mandavgane, Martyred in Budgam Crash, Laid To Rest With Full Military Honours.
According to the report, there were concerns that armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) would also try to enter the Indian Territory along with the Pakistani fighter jets. It might be possible that a slow-moving target like the Mi-17 V 5 helicopter could potentially be mistaken for a low flying armed UAV, reported ET. Usually, when an air defence alert is sounded, there are a set of rules that transport aircraft and helicopters need to follow, and also aircraft are to switch on their IFF systems. IAF Wing Commander Sidharth Vashisht, Martyred in Budgam Crash, Laid To Rest With Full Military Honours.
The IFF is a radar-based identification system designed for command and control. It uses a transponder that listens for an interrogation signal and then sends a response consisting of a unique signal that identifies the broadcaster. It enables military and civilian air traffic control interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator.
Initially, reports surfaced that the chopper crashed after developing a technical snag. In the crash, six IAF personnel – Wing Commander Sidharth Sharma, Squadron Leader Ninad Mandavgane, Sergeant Vikrant Sherawat, Corporal Deepak Pandey, Corporal Pankaj Kumar and engineer Vishal Kumar Pandey were killed in the crash. A civilian also lost his life in the incident. The 20-year-old Kifayat Hussain, was caught in the explosion after the crashed helicopter landed in fields in Budgam. The accident occurred at 10:10 am in the morning on February 27.