GUWAHATI: An Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper crashed in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh on Friday morning, killing seven defence personnel and leaving one critically wounded.
The Mi-17 V5 helicopter had taken off from near Tawang and was on an air maintenance sortie when the mishap occurred, officials said.
“The chopper crashed at around 6:30 am in a remote jungle area in Tawang. The crash site has been located and the bodies have been recovered. They are being brought to a helipad near Tawang. They will be flown to Guwahati after the legal formalities here are over,” Tawang superintendent of police, Manoj Kumar Meena, told New Indian Express.
He said he had no idea as to the purpose of the flight but said routine sorties usually go on from there.
“As of now, we don’t know if there were any officers on board the chopper. We are in the process of getting the list of the deceased personnel,” Meena said.
According to him, it takes four to five hours from Tawang by road to reach the crash site which is not near the China or the Bhutan border.
A statement released earlier by the Tezpur-based defence PRO Lt Col Sombit Ghosh said, "Today morning at around 0600 hrs a Mi-17 V5 helicopter while on an Air Maintenance mission crashed in Arunachal Pradesh resulting in fatal injuries to 5 personnel and critical injury to one personnel. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident".
The Mi-17 V5 is a Russian built medium-lift military transport chopper. Indian forces presently operate more than 300 helicopters belonging to the Mi-8 and Mi-17 family, deployed for troop and arms transport, fire support, convoy escort, patrol, and search-and-rescue (SAR) missions.
So far, for additional fleet of 48 Mi 17 helicopters, talks are at the initial stage to pave way for techno-commercial negotiations. Only last year, Russia had handed over to India the final batch of three Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters under a previously signed contract with Rosoboronexport, a company of the Rostec State Corporation.
In 2008, Rosoboronexport signed a contract for the delivery of 80 Mi-17V-5 to India, which was completed in 2011 -2013. In 2012-2013, three additional contracts were signed to supply a total of 71 Mi-17V-5 helicopters to meet the needs of the Indian Air Force.
Mi 17 V5 is designed to transport cargo inside the cabin and on an external sling, considered to be one of the world's most advanced military transport helicopters.