The Indian Air Force (IAF) has recommended gallantry medals for its six personnel who were killed in a chopper crash due to friendly fire over Srinagar on February 27, a day after the force hit a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
The helicopter Mi-17 V5, which was hit by an Indian missile, was being flown by squadron leader Siddharth Vashisht with other pilot squadron leader Ninad Mandvgane along with other crew including Kumar Pandey, sergeant Vikrant Sehrawat, corporals Deepak Pandey and Pankaj Kumar.
"The two pilots have been recommended to be awarded the Vayu Sena Medal for Gallantry while the other four crew of the chopper have been recommended for the Mention in Despatches," IAF sources told ANI.
All the six personnel have been recommended for wartime gallantry medals as they were flying during operations to carry out an operational task assigned to them, they said.
The six personnel on board the chopper were killed after being hit by the SPYDER air defence missile system in Budgam near Srinagar. In addition to the six IAF personnel, a civilian was killed on the ground.
Soon after taking over, the newly appointed IAF chief had stated that the Mi-17 chopper crash was a "big mistake" on part of the air force. "Court of Inquiry has completed and it was our mistake as our missile had hit our own chopper," Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria had said.
The helicopter was shot down when Indian air defences were on high alert following the February 26 airstrikes in which a terrorist camp was targetted in Pakistan.