Tearful adieu and farewell salutes to the brave soldiers who were killed in the helicopter tragedy on Wednesday. The horrendous crash has snatched away from us some excellent soldiers and their loss is ever irreversible. The loss of General Bipin Rawat is more than shocking, for he was a rare breed of Soldier Superior with a brilliant and aggressive martial brain. That is the reason the Narendra Modi Government opted him as the first Chief of Defense Staff.
While his pyre is lit at the cantonment crematorium, millions of emotionally moved countrymen have a few questions on the chopper crash in which the CDS, his wife and some exceptionally talented Fojis with unmatched combat capabilities perished.
As usual aviation experts and retired military officials expounding weather as villain. Of course, weather in this mountainous terrain is more often whimsical from the third week of November to Middle of January. A journalist remembers late Jayalathilaa, former Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, despite her fondness for areal expedition; avoid flying down to Ooty Hills in winter.
The weather the baddie that cause this horrendous crash! Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat the single-point advisor to the Union Government on matters related to the military and few of our brilliantly competent senior soldiers were flying onboard a Mi-17V5 helicopter and it crashed just a few minutes before reaching the destination, killing 11 including Rawat’wife. Chief of Defense Staff also lost his life later in the day at the Wellington Military Hospital.
Media reports quoting officials says “technical snag or weather “could have been the reason for the crash. In fact India purchased 80 Mi-17 helicopters from Russia few years ago, which have enhanced the capability of the Indian Air Force’s medium transport fleet. “Mi-17 V5 is a trusted aircraft used for all dignitary movements, including the prime minister. The Mi-17 V5 is top of the line series. The last batch of the chopper was delivered to India in 2018.”
If one is to believe the media reports based on defense and aviation experts, “Mi-17V5 is built Like a Tank, Nearly Impossible to Shoot It Down even with Radar-guided Missile.” The Russian made helicopter is “fully equipped with modern avionics” and is competent to operate in any terrains including misty mountains. The copper can even be operated even in the night in adverse weather situation.”
It has been proved many trying times that “Mi-17V5 is capable of landing on unprepared sites at night that too in adverse weather conditions.” These observations indicate it may not be the fitness of the helicopter in question.
No just that since flight was for a VVIP-The Chief of Defense Staff, “an all-inclusive examination of the helicopter would have been done before the take off. There would have been a standby helicopter as well. The weather condition would have been checked.”
A prominent publication quoting an official has said that on the fateful Wednesday, “the IAF chopper, instead of flying above Pakkasauranmalai, took a very unusual aerial route in the valley right above Ooty-Coimbatore NH in the Katteri-Burliar sector sandwiched between Pakkasuranmalai and the wooded Nanjappachathiram slopes.”
Many who are familiar with the mountain terrain asks a question, “When the hillock is misty and the weather is hostile how could the pilot decide to take the risk of flying CDS and many key military officers on board? Who gave the clearance to take off?”
Still the question resonates is “what could the cause of crash” that killed our key military and defense strategist. There is every possibility, to please the public, the real masters in a democracy, the incumbent Government will order a high-level judicial probe, notwithstanding the Combined Defense investigation.