Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 11 other persons who were on board IAF’s Mi-17V5 chopper died after it crashed near Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor on Wednesday. The Indian Air Force (IAF), in a tweet, confirmed the death of CDS Rawat.
The death of CDS Bipin Rawat and others on Wednesday shines the spotlight on the Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters, which have a history of accidents in India.
The Mi-17V5 is a modern transport helicopter used by the Indian Air Force. The chopper is designed to carry personnel, cargo and equipment inside its cargo cabin or on an external sling. The helicopter is capable of dropping tactical air assault forces and reconnaissance teams.
Read: RIP General Bipin Rawat: India’s first CDS, Gorkha Regiment officer with surgical strike, Myanmar mission on CV
Manufactured by Russia’s Kazan Helicopters, the chopper has a range of 1,065 km. The helicopter can carry a maximum load of 13,000 kilograms, flying at a maximum speed of 250 km per hour.
But the Russian-made Mi-series choppers have been involved in a number of crashes over the past 10 years. As many as five accidents have taken place since 2010, claiming the lives of at least 42 people. Here are the crashes involving the IAF’s Mi-17 helicopters:
ARUNACHAL PRADESH, 2010
Date: 19 November, 2010; Location: Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh; Casualties: 12 dead
All 12 armed forces personnel on board an IAF MI-17 helicopter were killed when it crashed minutes after take-off from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. The 12 people, including 11 IAF officials – two of them pilots – and one Army officer, died when the helicopter crashed at Bomdir bordering China.
The crash occurred minutes after the helicopter, en route to Guwahati, took off from the Tawang helipad.
Date: 30 August, 2012; Location: Jamnagar, Gujarat; Casualties: 9 dead
On August 30, nine Air Force personnel, including five officers, on board two MI-17 helicopters were killed when the choppers collided mid-air shortly after takeoff from an air base near Jamnagar city in Gujarat.
The multi-role helicopters were reportedly out on practice for a bombing mission when the accident occurred.
“There were nine personnel on board and all succumbed to injuries,” said a statement from the Ministry of Defence after the incident.
“The helicopters had taken off from Jamnagar airbase and were on a routine flying training mission,” it added.
Date: 25 June, 2013; Location: Gaurikund, Uttarakhand; Casualties: 8 injured
IAF’s Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed while engaged in a rescue mission in Uttarakhand. The IAF put the toll at eight, including the chopper’s five crew members.
The helicopter, on a rescue mission from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath, crashed north of Gaurikund on the return leg from Kedarnath, an IAF statement said.
“The eight persons onboard, including five crew members, sustained fatal injuries,” the statement said.
ARUNACHAL PRADESH, 2017
Date: 6 October, 2017; Location: near Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh; Casualties: 7 dead
An Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh’s Chuna area, killing all seven people on board. The crash took place at around 6 am in Chuna in Arunachal Pradesh’s Yangstse sector. The chopper crashed in a hilly terrain around 12 kilometers from the India-China border and around 100 kilometres from Tawang.
The helicopter chopper involved in the crash was carrying out an air maintenance mission and had taken off from the Tawang sector.
Date: 3 April, 2018; Location: Kedarnath; Casualties: 0
The M17 helicopter carrying construction material crashed in Kedarnath on April 3, 2018. The chopper was carrying six people, all of whom managed to survive the crash. The chopper was on its way from Guptkashi to Kedarnath at the time of the crash.
The helicopter crashed during landing when it hit the perimeter wall of the Kedarnath temple.
JAMMU AND KASHMIR, 2019
Date: 27 February, 2019; Location: Budgam, Jammu & Kashmir; Casualties: 6 dead
The Mi-17 helicopter crashed at Budgam on February 27 after taking off from Srinagar airport. All six personnel on board were killed during the crash.
The crash took place around the same time a group of Pakistani fighter jets attempted intruding into Indian airspace in retaliation to the Indian Air Force’s aerial strike targeting a terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan a day before.