IAF pilots killed in friendly fire conferred gallantry award

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force pilots of the Mi17 helicopter that was shot down in friendly fire in Budgam in Jammu and Kashmir last year have been conferred gallantry awards posthumously.

Squadron Leader Ninad Anil Mandavgane (Posthumous), Squadron Leader Siddharth Vashisht (Posthumous) were awarded the Vayu Sena medal (gallantry) on the eve of Republic Day.

On February 27, 2019, an Mi17 helicopter crashed in Budgam in which six personnel onboard were killed. This happened during heightened tension between India and Pakistan.

The incident took place in the fog of war or what is often called blue on blue in military parlance a day after the Indian Air Force hit terror camps in Pakistan. As the Pakistan Air Force retaliated, there was an aerial dogfight.

The other four personnel killed were accorded the status of ‘Mention-In-Despatches’ which is also a recognition for gallantry.

Sergeant Vikrant Sahrawat, Sergeant Vishal Kumar Pandey, Corporal Pankaj Kumar and Corporal Deepak Pandey have their names figured as Mention-in-Despatches, Posthumously.

The IAF in its court of inquiry had established lapses and mistakes by officials.

It established that the Mi17 helicopter was hit by IAF missile.

Those killed have been considered battle casualties.

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