Ahmedabad/New Delhi: Nine defence personnel, including five officers, were killed
Thursday when two Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters collided
mid-air near Jamnagar in Gujarat, in one of the worst such
accidents in recent years, an official said.
The collision at the Sarmat range near Jamnagar, about 275 km from
Ahmedabad, took place at 12.05 p.m. while two Russian-origin Mi-17
cargo choppers of the air force were on a training mission.
All those killed belonged to the air force.
The crash occurred shortly after the choppers took off from the
"Two Mi-17 IAF helicopters crashed near Sarmat range in Gujarat
Aug 30 at about 12.05 p.m. The helicopters had taken off from
Jamnagar airbase and were on a routine flying training mission.
There were nine personnel on board and all succumbed to injuries,"
IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Gerard Galway said in a statement
in New Delhi.
"An inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the
accident," he said.
On board the ill-fated choppers were five officers and four men of
other ranks, defence sources said.
Among them were three wing commanders, a squadron leader, a flying
officer, a junior commissioned officer and three sergeants.
However, names of the deceased are being withheld till the next of
kin are informed.
In fact, the tragedy was compounded by the fact that three of the
officers were among the best IAF chopper pilots, with nearly 15
years of flying experience each.
Also, they belonged to a key IAF formation called the Tactical and
Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE), an institution like
the US Navy's 'Top Gun' school.
TACDE develops the IAF's combat flying and concepts and only the
best of pilots with advanced flying skills are sent there for
The choppers, according to information reaching New Delhi, were
flying close to each other when their rotor blades came in
contact, causing the accident.
The two helicopters, sources said, were flying in a formation when
the overhead rotor blades of one chopper hit the tail rotor blades
of the other, which was flying ahead of it.
The rotors of the Mi-17IV choppers are usually about 22 metres in
diameter and for that reason, two choppers flying in formation
maintain a proximity of about 50 metres between them, IAF officers
The training mission involved flying at such proximity, they said.
"We cannot remember any such accident in recent years and the loss
of nine personnel, that too some top notch pilots, in one go, is a
big loss," an officer added.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony expressed deep sorrow at the accident
and in a statement conveyed condolences to the bereaved families.