New Delhi: A newly-acquired transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed near Gwalior on Friday, killing all five IAF personnel on board.
The casualties included Wing Commander Prashant Joshi, Wing Commander Rajiv Nair, Squadron Leader Kaushik Mishra, Squadron Leader Ashish Yadav and Warrant Officer KP Singh.
The C-130J Super Hercules, acquired by India in 2010 from the US, had taken off from the Agra airbase on a flying training missing on Friday morning and crashed in the Karauli district in Rajasthan, 72 miles from Gwalior, officials said. The reason for the crash is not yet known.
The IAF has ordered a Court of Inquiry into the incident.
The Super Hercules was used in a major show of strength against China when its troops pitched tents in Ladakh's Daulat Beg Oldie sector in 2013. The IAF landed the Super Hercules to send out a strong message to India's ballistic neighbour.
The aircraft has a maximum load of 6 pallets or 74 litters or 16 CDS bundles or 92 combat troops or 64 paratroopers, or a combination of any of these up to the cargo compartment capacity or maximum allowable weight.
India and US had inked a $1.2 billion US Foreign Military Sale order for six C-130J Super Hercules in late 2008. The contract included six aircraft, training of aircrew and maintenance technicians, spares, ground support and test equipment, servicing carts, forklifts, loading vehicles, cargo pallets and a team of technical specialists to be based in India during a three-year initial support period.
The package also included operational equipment designed to increase Special Operations capabilities.
Equipped with an Infrared Detection Set (IDS), the aircraft can perform precision low-level flying, airdrops and landing in blackout conditions. Self-protection systems and other features are included to ensure aircraft survivability in hostile air defence environments. The aircraft also is equipped with air-to-air receiver refueling capability for extended range operations.
The C-130J is powered by four Rolls Royce AE2100 engines and Dowty six bladed props which provide the aircraft with tremendous power.
The aircraft can fly at an altitude of 28,000 feet (8,615 meters) with the maximum payload of 42,000 pounds (19,090 kilograms) and has a top speed of 417 mph/362 ktas (Mach 0.59)
The range at maximum normal payload is 2,071 miles (1,800 nautical miles).
Here is the statement made by the Chief of the air staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha:
1. 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.
2. C-130J is a modern aircraft which was inducted into the IAF in 2010. In the last three years of its operations we have exploited capabilities of this aircraft during Uttarakhand floods and landing at DBO, which is the highest landing ground in the world. Needless to say, that the best pilots have been chosen to fly these aircraft.
3. "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.