IAF sacks three officers for Brahmos misfire into Pakistan in March
The Government on Tuesday dismissed three Indian Air Force officers for service for the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile “accidental firing” on March 9 this year. The missile had landed in Pakistan. However, there were no casualties there. The three officers include a Group Captain, a Wing Commander, and a Squadron Leader. They had deviated from the standard operating procedure (SOP).
Announcing this major development, the IAF said “a Brahmos missile was accidentally fired on March 9. A Court of Inquiry set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile.
These three officers have primarily been held responsible for the incident. Their services have been terminated by the Central government with immediate effect. Termination orders have been served upon the officers on August 23,” the IAF said.
The missile was reportedly fired from a base in north India and it deviated course and landed 124 km inside Pakistan in the Mian Channu area there. The missile did not carry any warhead. The IAF had viewed the incident seriously and reviewed its standard operating procedures. The Defence Ministry was also briefed about the inquiry committee report submitted to it sometime in mid-April. Sabotage was ruled out.
With questions raised about the training and other allied procedures in handling such a sophisticated missile system, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh assured Parliament on March 15 that the missile system is very reliable and safe. “Moreover, our safety procedures and protocols are of the highest order and are reviewed from time to time. Our Armed Forces are well-trained and disciplined and are well experienced in handling such systems,” he said.
During routine maintenance and inspection, a missile was accidentally released at around 7 p.m. It was later learned that the missile had landed inside the territory of Pakistan, he had said. “While this incident is regretted, we are relieved that nobody was hurt due to the accident. I would like to inform the House that the government has taken serious note of the incident,” Rajnath said in the Rajya Sabha.
Pakistan had lodged a strong protest against the reported accidental firing of the missile and summoned the Indian Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad. It also called for a joint probe and China backed it. However, the US said it was an accident and the Indian Defence Ministry had given the details.
“We have no indication, as you also heard from our Indian partners, that this incident was anything other than an accident,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price had said.
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