Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria
Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh BhadauriaIANS

The new Indian Air Force (IAF) chief, Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, on Friday said that shooting down the IAF chopper in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this year was a "big mistake" and disciplinary action is being taken against the responsible officers.

The IAF chief said: "It was a big mistake on our part. We accept it." He said that it was a big blunder and a Court of Inquiry was initiated and was completed last week. The enquiry established lapses and mistakes from the official's side.

A Mi-17 V5 chopper was shot down at Budgam near Srinagar on February 27 while the Indian and Pakistani forces were engaging in a dogfight. The incident took place just a day after the bombing at Balakot terrorist camp. The chopper crash had claimed the lives of six air force personnel and a civilian.

Indian soldiers stand next to the wreckage of an Indian Air Force helicopter after it crashed in Budgam district in Kashmir, February 27. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

"Our missile hit (the helicopter). This has been established. Administrative action and disciplinary action is being taken. Necessary steps are being taken so such incidents don't repeat. Those killed will be considered battle casualties," he added.

Former IAF chief BS Dhanoa had also said that the Air Force needs to learn lessons on what happened, how it happened and if mistakes were made, need to make sure it does not happen again.

The court of inquiry found that the IAF chopper was shot down by friendly fire emanating from the Spyder air defence missile system which was located at Srinagar airbase.

According to the inquiry, the officers who handled the air defence system mistook the helicopter for an incoming missile and brought it down.

(With agency inputs.)