IAF Mi-17 helicopter with 14 onboard including CDS General Bipin Rawat and his wife crashes near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

Published : December 08, 2021 17:15 IST

Wreckage of the IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter that crashed near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, on December 8. Photo: PTI


A Russian-built Mi-17 V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on a short sortie from Sulur Air Force Station near Coimbatore to Wellington in the Nilgiris crashed near Katteri village in the Western Nilgiris on December 8. There were 14 persons on board including General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and his wife Madhulika Rawat.

As stated in the flight manifest, General Rawat had taken off from Palm Air Force Station earlier in the day aboard an Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft (K3602) and had arrived at Sulur Air Force Station and then boarded the ill-fated Mi-17 helicopter enroute to Wellington. General Rawat was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the prestigious Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, near Coonoor.

An inquiry has been ordered into the mishap.

General Rawat, the senior-most uniformed officer on active duty in the Indian Armed Forces, also functions as the Military Advisor to the Nuclear Command Authority. The CDS, a four-star officer selected from among serving officers of the Indian Armed Forces, is a single-point military adviser to the Indian Defence Minister.

The IAF in a tweet stated: “An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has also informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the crash and developments. He is also expected to brief Parliament on the incident on December 9.

According to information from local and military sources, the helicopter came down in flames and crashed in a wooded area.

On board the Mi-17 helicopter along with General Rawat and his wife were his military adviser a Brigadier rank officer, a staff officer of the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, five personal security personnel and the IAF’s crew consisting of two pilots, a flight engineer, and two airmen.

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