Indian Air Force reveals cause of 2022 accidental BrahMos missile launch into Pakistan

Team India Sentinels Sunday 31st of March 2024 02:35 PM

BrahMos missiles. (File photo)

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force has attributed the accidental firing of a BrahMos supersonic cruise missile into Pakistan two years ago to a technical oversight. The incident, which occurred on March 9, 2022, raised concerns about nuclear safety and heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

In a statement submitted to the Delhi high court during a case, the IAF revealed that a court of inquiry to probe the incident found that “combat connectors of the BrahMos missile remained connected to the junction box” during a routine inspection, leading to the unintended launch. The junction box is a critical component that transmits firing signals to the missile.

The probe further highlighted the gravity of the situation. The combat crew were aware that the combat connectors were still attached to the junction box, but failed to intervene. Consequently, the mobile autonomous launcher commander launched the missile, posing a potential threat to airborne aircraft.

While the missile landed in Pakistani territory, it was not armed and caused no casualties or damage. However, the incident sparked a diplomatic row, with Pakistan demanding a thorough investigation into the launch and assurances to prevent future such occurrences.

According to media reports at that time, the missile flew from Haryana’s Sirsa and crashed into Mian Channu in Pakistan’s Punjab. Apart from facing embarrassment regarding missile safety, India also reportedly faced a financial loss of ₹249,085,000.

While full details from the investigation remain classified, the IAF’s disclosure sheds some light on the gravity of the lapse and negligence on the part of officers responsible for the missile’s safety. 

The IAF also emphasized that this lapse had a profound impact on India-Pakistan relations.

In response to the accidental firing of the missile, the IAF took decisive action. Three IAF officers were terminated from service under the “president’s pleasure” clause, a rare step. 

Earlier, a senior Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer from the IAF had confirmed that such action was warranted given the circumstances. He said the decision to dismiss the officers was aimed to prevent sensitive and secret information from becoming public, which could compromise national security.

The BrahMos, which is jointly developed by India and Russia, is a supersonic cruise missile capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads. The accidental launch has prompted calls for stricter safety protocols and a review of operational procedures for handling such sensitive weaponry.

The Delhi high court is currently hearing a petition filed by one of the three IAF officers who was dismissed from service following the incident. The officer claims he was not involved in the events leading to the launch and is, thus, challenging his termination.

The government’s response to the court emphasizes the potential for escalation due to the accidental launch. On the flip side, this also highlights the importance of the improved communication channels and risk-reduction measures between India and Pakistan that are in place to prevent similar incidents from triggering a wider conflict.


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