New Delhi: Five armed forces personnel were killed when a newly-acquired C-130J transport aircraft crashed near Gwalior yesterday in what is seen as a major setback to the efforts of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to sharpen its tactical capabilities. The IAF described it as a said day but reiffrmed its commitment to its mission..
“It is very unfortunate that we have lost five of our brave warriors in a tragic accident today. It is a sad moment for all of us and we share the grief with the family members,” the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Subir Raha said, adding: “Events like these are painful reminders of the inherent risks which our brave airwarriors face in the execution of our daily mission.”
“While the IAF will conduct a thorough enquiry into the accident to ascertain exactly what led to this accident, the IAF remains committed to provide the best possible equipment and training to our personnel so that they can execute their assigned missions professionally,” an IAF statement said.
The victims have been identified as Wing commander P Joshi, Wing Commander Raji Nair, Squadron Leader K Mishra, Squadron Leader A Yadav and Warrant Officer Krishna Pal Singh. “The aircraft crashed 72 km west of Gwalior. It had taken off from Agra around 10am on a routine training mission,” an IAF officer said here yesterday.
The ill-fated multi-role plane, one of six acquired two years ago for Special Forces operations, was believed to be one of two engaged in a low-level tactical operation meant to evade radar while inducting troops behind “enemy” lines. The C-130J, also known as the Super Hercules, sources said, had been used in tandem with an IAF P8I Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft during the recent search for the missing Malaysian airliner MH 370.
Prior to this, it was used in relief operations after last June’s Uttarakhand floods and for a landing at Daulat Beg Oldie near the border with China that the IAF is in the process of reactivating.
India bought the six aircraft in January 2008 for $1.2bn and the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, began deliveries in January 2011. The six aircraft were based at the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad near the national capital from February, 2011.IANS