Chief of Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo/ANI)
Chief of Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. (Photo/ANI)

Mi-17 helicopter crash 'a big mistake', tackling threat of small drones: Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria

ANI | Updated: Oct 04, 2019 21:32 IST

New Delhi [India], Oct 4 (ANI): Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Friday said that a "big mistake" happened when IAF's Mi-17 helicopter was hit in February this year in a friendly fire killing all six personnel on board and action will be taken against the guilty.
Addressing the annual Air Force Day press conference here, Bhadauria said that steps have been taken to ensure confidentiality of radio communication from adversaries during any operation.
He also said that steps had been taken to pose the challenge of airspace violation posed by small drones.
Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said that a court of Inquiry (CoI) has been completed into the helicopter crash on February 27 in Budgam and "it was our mistake as our missile had hit our own chopper".
"We will take action against the two officers. We accept this was our big mistake and we will ensure such mistakes are not repeated in future," Bhadauria said.
The Mi-17 chopper was hit by the IAF's own SPYDER surface-to-air defence missile, a day after airstrikes on Balakot in Pakistan in which terror camps were targeted.
A promotional video showing the story of the Balakot airstrikes on a terror camp in Pakistan was played out before the start of the conference.
"Air Force has achieved many important milestones in the last year including February 26 when we successfully targeted terror camps in Balakot. On February 27, in the aerial battle after attack by Pakistan, Indian Air Force lost one MiG-21 and Pakistan lost one F-16," Bhadauria said at his first official press conference after taking over as the IAF Chief.
The airstrike was carried out in the wee hours of February 26 on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp and took place days after a terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama in Kashmir that killed 40 personnel. JeM had taken responsibility for the terror attack.
The IAF chief also said the force was ready to give any kind of reply to Pakistan if the need arose, "If there is a terror strike (from Pakistan), it will be responded as per the government decision on it."
The Chief of Air Staff also said that the purchase of French Rafale jets and the S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system will enhance the capabilities of the IAF.
"Rafale and S-400 Air Defence missile system will further bolster the capability of the Indian Air Force," he said.
The Air Force Chief said action has been taken over Pakistan using drones to smuggle arms into India.
"Small drones are a new threat and some procurements are already in process to tackle the issue. It is a space violation issue and necessary action has been initiated in this aspect," he said.
On September 22, the Punjab Police had busted a terrorist module of the revived Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) backed by Pakistan-based terror groups.
According to officials, arms were smuggled inside Indian territory to carry out a series of terror strikes in Punjab and its adjoining states.
According to Deputy General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta, the weapons were smuggled by Pakistan with help of drones. They were launched by ISI and state-sponsored 'jihadi' and pro-Khalistani terrorist outfits working under its command.
The IAF chief said in response to queries that the force has stepped up its safety measures to ensure that the enemy would not be able to interrupt the communication between the pilots and the ground station.
"We have taken steps to ensure safe radio communication. They would not be able to hear our communication," Bhadauria said replying to ANI's question on whether Pakistan would be able to jam India's communication with pilots as they did in case of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
Referring to the promotional video, Air Chief Marshal Bhaduria said that the footage was not from Mirage fighter jets that launched an airstrike on the terror launch pad in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The video also talks about the IAF foiling attempt by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to carry out an attack on Indian military installations the next day. The video has visuals of IAF pilots running out to their fighter jets and taking off and zoom in of potential targets. (ANI)