A court of inquiry has been set up to ascertain whether an Indian missile shot down the Mi17 helicopter in Budgam district in Jammu and Kashmir on February 27 killing six Indian Air Force personnel and a civilian. The Mi17 helicopter was hovering over Kashmir skies when India and Pakistan were locked in an aerial stand-off had crashed minutes after the Pakistan jets crossed over the Line of Control into the Indian territory to target military bases.
However, Pakistan refrained from mentioning that any of its jets shot down the Mi17 helicopter that has led to serious questions over lapses on India's side. The investigations are currently examining the sequence of events, particularly identifying whether the IAF personnel had followed the protocol of switching on the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) systems. IAF officials told Economic Times that court marshall proceedings may be initiated against the personnel who are found negligent.
Whether the in-charge personnel followed the set of protocols that could lead to the identification of friendly fire and how there should be an overall improvement in the system especially when the air defence network is congested. There are also apprehensions of whether Israel-made Indian missile confused the Mi17 helicopter with Pakistan's drone or UAV that led to the subsequent crash.
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. There were also reports of at least 25 Pakistani jets trying to make their way into the Indian side and target Indian Army camps. Sources revealed to Economic Times that Pakistan may have also deployed armed UAVs which may have been confused with slow flying Mi 17 helicopter.
The senior officers said that the enquiry is seeking to ascertain whether the transport aircraft and helicopters that day followed the standard procedure and took the demarcated routes for flying.
After the helicopter crashed in Budgam district of Kashmir, several Pakistani F-16 jets intruded the LoC within 10 minutes crossing over to Nowshehra sector in Jammu, nearly 300 kilometres apart. A Pakistani official handout later accepted the aerial battle with IAF in Nowshehra but didn't mention the Budgam crash, which has led to the setting up of an enquiry into the incident.
The indications of an external force leading to the Mi 17 V5 crash are pretty strong after the locals said that they heard a loud explosion and saw a trail of smoke near the helicopter crash site. Mi 17 helicopters are known to be one of the sturdiest aircraft prone to little to no technical snags.