New Delhi: The Russian made chopper, MI-17-V5 which crashed on Wednesday near Sulur airbase in Tamil Nadu, killing Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, his wife and 12 other men and officers of the Indian armed forces, is considered to be one of the safest aircraft with hardly any vulnerabilities.
The MI-17-V5 helicopter that carried CDS and others from Sulur airbase, Tamil Nadu, headed to Wellington, has generated a debate on whether the crash was an accident or sabotage. As a result, the chopper, considered to be sturdy and reliable machine, with latest avionics has come under focus.
As per the information available in public domain, some 12000 helicopters are used by 60 countries around the globe. MI-17-VP, is the latest of the series with a glass cockpit. It has been performing duties in tough weather conditions of Siachen glacier and is the back bone of Indian Air Force (IAF)’s helicopter fleet. It is considered one of the safest and most modern military transport aircrafts.
Its maximum take off weight is around 13,000 kg and can transport 36 armed soldiers with a total load of 4500 kg on their slings. It has twin turbine engines and in case of both engines failing during the flight, it is possible for the pilot to land safely in fields.
The cockpit and vital components are protected. Russians have designed it in such a way, that it can sustain any sniper attack and shoulder fired projectiles. It is also equipped with anti-missile and nuclear attack systems. Russian forces used attack version of this machine during their presence in Afghanistan to neutralise Taliban mercenaries who were armed with US made Stinger shoulder fired missiles.
Tri-Services have launched the probe headed by Air Marshall Manvendra Singh, the Air Officer-in-chief Training Command to ascertain the causes that could have led to the crashing of MI-17-V5, the Russian made chopper.
The log book of the ill-fated chopper, staff involved in its maintenance, and the company that supplied its spares are being probed. The flying history of MI-17-V5 helicopter carrying CDS Rawat was clear and there was no technical issue with it. The ‘court of inquiry’ ordered by the IAF and being supervised by the Air Chief Marshall VR Choudhry is looking into all aspects.
“The chopper in question was on VVIP duty. As per the laid down protocol, its flight details closely guarded and is not known to others, except the pilots. Technical teams carry out extensive checks at three stages before the designated flight and then the machine is sealed. The seal is opened by the pilot himself. In this case, it was Wing Commander Prithvi Singh, who was also the Commanding Officer of the 109 squadron of the IAF, who opened the seal to get inside”, said an ex officer on the condition of anonymity.
“It is highly perplexing that a safe helicopter with multiple safety checks, carrying the CDS, his wife and 12 others crashed within minutes of its take off. The Flight Data Recorder (FDR) also known as the Black Box and the Crash Data Recorder have been recovered. We shall know the truth soon”, the officer said adding that people should have faith in the ongoing inquiry that has been ordered by the Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh.