Mi-17 chopper
In picture: The Mi-17 chopper. Wikimedia Commons

A black box which could have provided a breakthrough in the Mi-17 chopper crash in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir has gone missing and may have been taken away by the hostile locals. The Mi-17 helicopter crashed ten minutes after it took off on February 27 morning killing six Indian Air Forces personnel and a civilian. The crucial black box and the flight data recorder that would have provided inputs on the sequence of events leading to the crash are both missing, the officials said.

"The black box went missing after the crash and we are trying to locate it. It is possible that it has been taken away by the hostile locals, who have taken away many other parts as well," the IAF sources told the ANI.

The recent incident of Mirage-2000 crash in France was probed by recovering the black box of the aircraft that provides the exact details of the events before the accident.

A court of inquiry has been set up by the IAF to ascertain the reasons of the tragic chopper crash and there are reports that an Indian defence missile could have shot down the Mi-17 helicopter confusing it with a Pakistan UAV ( Unmanned aerial vehicle). The IAF officials have said that the personnel found negligent would have to face the court marshall proceedings

Pakistan meanwhile steered clear of the controversy by not mentioning the Budgam crash in its official statement post-India-Pakistan aerial standoff on February 27. After the Mi-17 chopper crashed in Budgam, Pakistan's F-16 jets crossed over to the Indian side of Line of Control in Nowshehra sector of Jammu to target the military bases.

Indian soldiers and Kashmiri onlookers stand near the remains of an Indian Air Force aircraft after it crashed in Budgam district, on the outskirts of Srinagar on February 27, 2019.TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

But there was no apparent link between the two incidents as the sites are 300 kilometres apart. The investigations initiated are now focussed on any lapses from the Indians side. There are also apprehensions that the IFF ( identity, friend, foe) system of the Mi-17 V5 chopper was not turned on which could have detected a ' friendly fire' and averted the crash. It also remains to be seen whether the transport aircraft and the routine choppers took the designated routes that day when the traffic was congested.

On February 27, an air defence alert was sounded in Indian states close to the Line of Control which also led to a temporary shutdown of several airports in J&K and Punjab.