India Friday confirmed that a missile which was accidently fired during a routine maintenance exercise landed inside Pakistan due to malfunction.
“On 9 March 2022, in the course of a routine maintenance, a technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile,” India’s ministry of defence said in a statement issued on Friday evening.
On March 10, Pakistani security officials had told media that an ‘unarmed supersonic flying object’ which flew from India had landed inside Pakistan.
Pakistani officials had said that though there was no loss of property but the object did damage some civilian property and endangered the air traffic both in India and Pakistan.
A day after Pakistan’s claim of an ‘unarmed flying object’ landing inside its territory, the Government of India admitted that the missile was fired accidentally.
“It is learnt that the missile landed in an area of Pakistan. While the incident is deeply regrettable, it is also a matter of relief that there has been no loss of life due to the accident,” India’s ministry of defence said.
“The Government of India has taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry,” the MoD added.
The incident of accidental of firing of a missile comes days after a decision by India to cancel the biggest air force firing exercise, the Vayu Shakti 2022, which was scheduled to take place at Pokhran range in western state of Rajasthan near Pakistan border on March 7.
The cancellation of exercise, involving nearly 150 front-line fighters, bombers and helicopters of the Indian air force, had surprised many observers. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also scheduled to witness the war-games near Pakistan border.
After the incident, Pakistan raised concerns over safety-mechanism of India’s lethal weapon systems.
Though the Indian government did not confirm other details of the missile accidentally fired from India, several official sources quoted in local media reports suggested it was a Brahmos supersonic cruise missile jointly developed and produced by Russia and India.
India’s Brahmos Missile
Brahmos is one of the most lethal supersonic cruise missiles in Indian arsenal. The missile has a range in excess of 300 kilometers and it is in use by all three services of Indian military.
While Indian army uses surface-to-surface version of Brahmos missile, Indian air force has mated the deadly missile on its Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters as air-to-land missile.
Indian Navy also uses naval version of Brahmos missile for anti-ship warfare and also for ship-to-land attack roles.
India recently signed an agreement with Philippines for export of Brahmos missile for its coastal defence.
The incident of accidental firing of an armed missile which veered off from its path and landed in Pakistan raised serious concerns as both the nuclear armed neighbours have fought four major wars and engage in small border clashes due to infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan into India.
It assumes significance as Indian Air Force had carried out surgical strikes on terror camps in Pakistan’s Balakot in February 2019 in response to killing of 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers in a suicide bomb attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
After the Balakot strike, Pakistan upgraded its air defence systems and radars to prevent any such attack in future.
Military experts have often warned serious repercussions due to any miscalculation or accidental firing of lethal weapons by either side.