#NewsBytesExplainer: Why IAF officer was dismissed over 'friendly fire' accident
A General Court Martial (GCM) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) recommended the dismissal of Group Captain Suman Roy Chowdhury, former Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the Srinagar Air Force Station. The GCM ordered the sacking following an inquiry report on the suspicious crash of a Mi-17 V5 chopper in Jammu and Kashmir's Budgam in the aftermath of the 2019 Balakot airstrike. Here's more.
IAF's Group Captain Suman Roy Chowdhury violated SOPs: Inquiry
Chowdhury was found guilty of violating Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by deciding to shoot down the Mi-17 chopper as COO. However, the findings and sentencing of the officer are subject to confirmation by the IAF chief. Reportedly, the crash took place on February 27, 2019, a day after the Balakot airstrikes in Pakistan, which were in retaliation for the Pulwama attack.
IAF probe blamed 'friendly fire' for Mi-17 chopper's crash
In August 2019, months after the incident, the IAF probe ruled that the crash, which killed seven people, was caused by a "friendly fire." "The Court of Inquiry has found that the crash was a result of system failure. Two officers, the chief operations officer (COO) and the senior air traffic control officer (SATCO) have been found to blame," ThePrint reported citing sources.
'System failure' led to the accident
The probe into the incident also stated that the chopper was indeed shot down by the IAF's own Israeli-made Spyder air defense system following the failure of command and control. Notably, the incident took place while the IAF and Pakistani Air Forces (PAF) were engaged in a dogfight in the Nowshera sector, around 100 kilometers from the crash site in Budgam.
Chowdhury may challenge dismissal order in civil court
On March 20, the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted permission for the GCM to submit its findings. The court, however, also ordered that the findings be withheld until the case was resolved. Chowdhury urged the GCM not to proceed with the sentencing, but the GCM did so on the advice of a judge advocate. He will likely challenge it in the high court.
Know about the crash incident
The chopper was hit by a missile, allegedly from a nearby IAF base, about 100 kilometers away from the skirmish site, and crashed immediately. This came a day after the Balakot airstrikes, in which Pakistan launched a counter-attack, resulting in an IAF-PAF dogfight.
A little more about the Balakot airstrike
In February 2019, India launched an airstrike on the terror training camps of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot. Pakistan retaliated to the February 26 Balakot attack by attempting to hit Indian military installations on February 27. As a result, India dispatched MiG-21 and Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets to retaliate against Pakistani jets. In this, Abhinandan Varthaman's MiG-21 Bison was gunned down by Pakistan's F-16 fighter aircraft.Share this timeline