SOURCE: NITIN GUPTA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG In Heat of the moment, Indian Air Force Air Defence unit which was equipped with SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) which is a short and medium-range mobile air defense system developed by Israel, shot down a Mi-17-V Helicopter belonging to the IAF itself in the first case of friendly fire which killed six crew of the ill-fated Helicopter that day but due to secrecy which has been maintained about the investigation which was launched soon after incident, two version or two theories have been floated by the Indian media through their sources, both equally disturbing , yet IAF is yet to clarify and disclose what really happened that day. Lack of official clarity regarding what happened to the Mi-17 and its Pilots and passengers that day also allowed Pakistani military-backed defense analysts to float their own theory which they are spreading for their own local consumption and are using it has propaganda against India at the International level. Theory-1 What has been established between both the theories is that people near the airbase had seen Two fighter jet ( Mig-21Bis ) took off from the Srinagar airbase and soon a missile was seen in the air chasing an unknown target which was heading towards the south-west direction and near Budgam village people sported a helicopter (Mi-17-V) which exploded mid-air nearly 22km away from the Srinagar airforce station from where the mobile air defense missile unit had fired the missile from. Theory-1 says that Mi-17 Helicopter was told to come towards Srinagar airforce station in designated take-off and landing corridor which was not followed and Identification, friend or foe (IFF) which is a radar-based identification system used on military aircraft and helicopter was found switched off due to which the helicopter was treated as a hostile target and since it was also not on the designated corridor due to which permission was given to shot down what seemed like a hostile target at that point of time. Theory-2 Theory-2 says that Identification, friend or foe (IFF) on Mi-17 helicopter was ” On ” has mandated by the IAF Headquarters a few months before, but Air Traffic Control (ATC) failed to inform the helicopter pilots about the events which had broken off that day and need to follow designated corridor path to gain access to Srinagar airforce station that day. Mobile Air Defence Unit rely on Air Traffic Control (ATC) system to identify a Hostile target and if ATC gave go head to the Mobile Air Defence Unit even after establishing communication with the hostile as reported by media then this blunder could only be blamed on the people who were present at the Air Traffic Control (ATC) which could be very high senior authorities of the Srinagar airforce station who goofed up big. While Airforce is yet to make its probe report public but this has allowed Pakistani military propagandist have floated their own illogical theories saying that Mi-17 was carrying pilots of the Su-30MKI which they claim was shot down on the Indian side of the LOC and Mobile Air Defence Unit was told to hit the ill-fated Mi-17 to cover up for the loss of the Su-30MKI that day. IAF needs to come clean with proper details of the incident and find out about the Black box which is still missing. This incident is worrisome especially since all three tri-service operates aircraft in their fleet and also operate various Fixed and Mobile Air Defence Unit at the various section of the western and northern border with Pakistan, failure to inform or lack of coordination between the forces can create a similar situation in the near future when tensions are high which should be avoided at any cost and tri-service should come up with better fail-safe mechanism to avoid such friendly fire in future.
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