IAF sacks 3 officers in missile firing case

Government had told BrahMos was fired accidentally, while IAF Court of Inquiry terminated services with immediate effect

August 23, 2022 07:35 pm | Updated 09:43 pm IST - NEW DELHI

File picture of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile being test-fired off the coast of Odisha

File picture of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile being test-fired off the coast of Odisha | Photo Credit: PTI

The Indian Air Force (IAF) Court of Inquiry (Col) into the accidental firing of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile in March, which landed in Pakistan, found that deviation from Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by three officers led to the incident. Services of the officers have been terminated with immediate effect, the IAF said on Tuesday.

“A BrahMos missile was accidentally fired on March 09, 2022. A CoI, set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the SOP by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile,” the IAF said in a statement. “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, 2022.”

The missile landed 124 k.m. inside Pakistan, following which the IAF ordered a CoI headed by an Air Vice Marshal, a two-star officer, to probe the incident. A day after the incident, Pakistan military had stated that the supersonic surface to surface missile flying at three times the speed of sound at 40,000 feet ended up 124 k.m. inside Pakistan damaging some civilian property.

As reported by The Hindu earlier, the CoI completed its investigation early April, following which the findings were sent for legal vetting before they could be submitted. Officials had stated that it didn’t seem to be a technical issue with the missile system and likely human error, which saying that the CoI will confirm the exact nature of the accident.

Officials with knowledge of the missile system had stated that there are a series of checks and balances built into the high end missile system while ruling out the possibility of a technical defect. There include a series of locks software locks which are authorised at various levels after which there are two manual keys before the countdown can be initiated.

Accidentally released

In a statement in the Parliament on March 15, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that during “routine maintenance and inspection,” a missile was “accidentally released” at around 7 p.m. and it was later learnt that the missile had landed inside the territory of Pakistan.

Stating that the missile system was “very, reliable and safe”, Mr. Singh stated that a review of the Standard Operating Procedures for “operations, maintenance and inspections” was being conducted.

BrahMos is a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and the missile derives its name from Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers.

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