Anatomy of a goof-up: How an Indian Army chopper landed in Pakistan New Delhi: About a year ago, a Cheetah Helicopter of the Aviation Wing of the Indian Army landed in Pakistan, almost sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries. But how could an aircraft land in Pakistan? The details of what preceded and followed the goof-up, which easily qualifies as one of the most embarrassing moments for the Indian Military in recent times, have been a closely-held secret. The inquiry into the incident, accessed by NDTV, reveals an almost incredible and, at times, a hilarious sequence of events. On 23 October 2011, a Cheetah Helicopter was launched from the Leh airfield, the Headquarters of 14 Corps of Indian Army, to repair a Dhruv Helicopter that was stranded at Drass. About half an hour into the flight, the pilots realised that they were low on fuel and decided to refuel at Kargil and had apparently spotted the Kargil airfield from air. The aircraft allegedly had only about 20 litres of fuel on board. However, sources tell NDTV, that the Global Positioning System (GPS) on board the aircraft was giving a different reading. After a quick consultation, the two pilots decided to over-ride the GPS and shift to manual flying using prominent terrain features as a guide. Sources tell NDTV, that the pilots spotted a second air field as well. The oil dumps in the second air field were allegedly visible from air as well. The Cheetah Helicopter was brought down on the second air field, and much to the surprise of the pilots, they were approached by a man in a pathani suit. Although perplexed to have been met by personnel who weren't in uniform, the pilots - perhaps in a hurry to reach Drass - asked for the aircraft to be refuelled. And seconds later, they allegedly realised that they had inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan and landed at an airfield controlled by a Pakistani artillery unit - 90 Medium Regiment. Meanwhile, another independent mistake happened. The Air Observation Post (AOP), positioned along the border, picked up a helicopter flying into Pakistan and reported back to 14 Corps about a Pakistani intrusion into Indian air space. Air intrusions, officers say, do happen and, at times, are deliberately done to test the response systems of the enemy. As the 14 Corps got busy in determining a response to the Pakistani air intrusion, another separate input reached them as well - it said that an Indian helicopter was missing. The second input about the missing helicopter reached the 14 Corps at about 1.15 pm. For the next 45 minutes or so, till the Pakistani media reported that an Indian military helicopter had been brought down in the Kargil-Olding Sector, India had no clue that the helicopter reported missing and the alleged Indian air space violation by Pakistan were one and the same. According to sources, the Northern Command informed the Army Headquarters soon after about the goof-up. The Army HQ then alerted the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Director General of Military Operation (DGMO) - who has a hotline to his Pakistani counterpart - was on the phone as well. By this time, the two pilots of the Indian Aviation Corps were in the Officers' Mess of the 90 Medium Regiment. The Commanding Officer of the Unit and other senior officers of the Pakistani Army rushed to the airfield. And, even though there were some doubts in the initial hours of the crisis as to how Pakistan would react to this incident, the situation at the Pakistani airfield was different. The Indian officers, sources tell NDTV, were told soon after they landed that mistakes do happen when flying through such a terrain. Soon, however, by about 2:45-3 pm, Pakistan decided to send the crew and the helicopter back. The helicopter was refuelled - as was the original idea - and given clearance for a take-off. The Pakistani soldiers, however, kept back the map that was used by the pilots to navigate to the Kargil airbase on the Indian side.