Shooting Down Chopper On Feb. 27 Was ‘Big Mistake’, Says IAF Chief
Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria addresses his first press conference as the new chief of the Indian Air Force, at Akash Air Force Officers Mess in New Delhi. (Source: PTI)

Shooting Down Chopper On Feb. 27 Was ‘Big Mistake’, Says IAF Chief


Air Chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Friday described as a "big mistake" the Indian Air Force shooting down its helicopter in Kashmir on Feb. 27, when Indian and Pakistani forces engaged in a dogfight, and said punitive action is being taken against the guilty.

The operational preparedness of the IAF has been of a very high order and it achieved a number of operational milestones last year, including the Balakot strikes, Bhadauria said at the Indian Air Force's annual press conference.

The IAF is prepared to meet any contingency and does not rest on past laurels, Bhadauria said. Ahead of the press conference, the IAF also showed video clips of the Balakot strikes. Pakistan lost an F-16 and India a MiG-21 in aerial engagement with the Pakistan Air Force a day after the Balakot strikes, IAF chief Bhadauria said.

Talking about the IAF shooting down its own Mi-17 helicopter in Budgam on the morning of Feb. 27, he said it was a "big mistake on our part". A court of inquiry has submitted its report and the IAF is taking punitive action against the guilty, he said.

Disciplinary action is being taken against two officers in the shooting down of the chopper, the IAF chief said. A surface-to-air missile of the Indian Air Force brought down the Mi-17 aircraft in Kashmir's Budgam on the morning of Feb. 27 when the Indian and Pakistani air forces were engaged in a fierce dogfight, a high-level probe had concluded in August. Bhadauria also said acquisition of Rafale aircraft and S400 air defence systems will greatly enhance IAF's operational capabilities.

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