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Commanding Officer, Others To Blame For Accidentally Firing BrahMos Missile Into Pakistan: Reports

Court of Inquiry reportedly establishes breach in Standard Operating Procedures in handling weapon system

Photo Credit : DRDO


File photo of BrahMos missile firing

The Commanding Officer (CO) of an Indian Air Force (IAF) BrahMos missile command post which accidentally fired a missile into Pakistan on March 9 has reportedly been found blameworthy for grave operational lapses by a high-level court of inquiry. Reports indicate that “more than one official” has been indicted in the inquiry report.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had indicated in his statement in Parliament that standard operating procedures for handling missile systems would be reviewed after the incident. 

An unarmed Brahmos supersonic cruise missile was accidentally launched during an exercise being audited by Command Air Staff Inspection (CASI). It crashed near Mian Channu in Pakistani Punjab, an estimated 124 km across the International Boundary. No loss of life was reported but the accident sparked concerns about the safety of missiles among the nuclear-armed neighbours. An accidental launch by one side can be interpreted as an attack by the other side, which can trigger retaliation and lead to an unintended conflict.

While it is apparent that Pakistani Air Defence could not detect the missile leave alone intercept it, the post-facto damage was reportedly contained by an immediate intimation by India over a military hotline.  

Pakistan later made a diplomatic issue out of the incident and demanded a joint inquiry into the mishap. 

The court of inquiry by the IAF’s Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Offensive), Air Vice Marshal RK Sinha has reportedly established a violation of SOPs by the Commanding Officer – a Group Captain – and those lower down the chain of command. 

Reports, which have not been officially corroborated by the IAF, suggest that the court of inquiry has ruled out technical malfunction, as was initially claimed. It appears that the inbuilt mechanical and electronic locks of the 290 km range supersonic missile system had been overridden as a consequence of the violation of SOPs. The missile launch could not be aborted as it does not have a self-destruct mechanism. 

There’s pressure on the IAF to swift demonstrable punitive action and reinforce safety measures in revised SOPs. 

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BrahMos Accidental firing pakistan Court Of Inquiry iaf