Mi-17 proves it­self in Ut­tarak­hand ops


The June 26 crash of a brand new In­dian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17 V5 he­li­copter dur­ing a res­cue mis­sion in Ut­tarak­hand cast a pall of gloom over the force, es­pe­cially the 157 He­li­copter Unit in Bar­rack­pore un­der the Eastern Air Com­mand. The tragedy was a deep one, with the loss of 20 souls, in­clud­ing five air war­riors. But the tragic ac­ci­dent aside (and a court of in­quiry is prob­ing the causes of the ac­ci­dent), the per­for­mance of the Mi-17 in both vari­ants, the 1V and V5 has been ex­em­plary in res­cue and re­lief op­er­a­tions in flood-af­fected state. The work­horse he­li­copter has proved to be rugged and de­pend­ably in in­clement weather sit­u­a­tions that have sud­denly caught pi­lots un­aware. The nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem on the new V5s have also proved to be ex­tremely use­ful. The chop­per has de­liv­ered high avail­abil­ity rates and gen­er­ated an im­pres­sive num­ber of sor­ties in the small fly­ing win­dows avail­able to pi­lots op­er­at­ing from Dehradun, Gauchar, Gup­tkashi, Ut­tarkashi, Gau­rikund and other land­ing grounds. With an at­ten­tive crack main­te­nance team on ground, the over 20 Mi-17s de­ployed in the state for air­lift­ing op­er­a­tions have es­tab­lished their rep­u­ta­tion as no-non­sense ma­chines for hu­man­i­tar­ian op­er­a­tions. The IAF is con­tem­plat­ing more Mi-17 V5s, as the num­bers presently in ser­vice are still not quite ad­e­quate.

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