NEW DELHI: Seven IAF personnel are feared killed in a helicopter crash near Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh on Friday evening.
The Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) crashed at a location in Sitapur near the Uttar Pradesh capital just four minutes after takeoff, an IAF spokesperson said here.
The ALH, also called Dhruv, departed from Bareilly at 4.53 pm and was on a mission to Allahabad. The chopper had two pilots and five other personnel on board, he said. “The pilot (of the chopper) gave a ‘mayday’ (emergency) call and soon after that there was a loss of contact on radar and on radio,” the spokesperson said.
“It is feared that there are no survivors. There is no reported damage on ground,” he added.
The IAF immediately ordered a court of inquiry into the air crash. The IAF lost a combat pilot in an MiG-21 crash near Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir on May 27 this year.
On March 28, five of its air crew were killed when a newly-acquired C-130J special operations plane crashed near Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.
On January 22, a Jaguar combat plane crashed near Bikaner in Rajasthan, but the two combat pilots on board were lucky enough to bail out on time to safety.
Only last week, the first Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting held under Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s chairmanship had approved the purchase of 32 Dhruv choppers from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at a cost of Rs 7,000 crore for the Navy and the Coast Guard.
All the three Armed Forces operate Dhruv, including in the Siachen Glacier, considered to be the toughest of all chopper operations.