M A I N   N E W S

IAF’s big bird Super Hercules crashes near Gwalior, 4 officers among 5 dead
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 28
In a major loss, a newly acquired US-made special operations plane — C-130-J Super Hercules — today crashed near Gwalior after taking off from Agra air base, killing five crew members, including four officers.

The dead have been identified as Wing Commander Prashant Joshi, Wing Commander Raji Nair, Squadron Leader Kaushik Mishra, Squadron Leader Ashish Yadav and Warrant officer Krishan Pal Singh.

"One C-130J aircraft crashed 72 miles (115 km) west of Gwalior air base. The aircraft took off from Agra at 10 am on a routine flying training mission. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate into the cause of the accident," an IAF spokesperson said in New Delhi.

The IAF rushed in its helicopters from Agra and Bareilly to look for the debris that has been secured. IAF sources said two C-130-J planes took off from the Agra base at 10 am on a routine tactical training sortie. One of the two planes just dropped from the sky and crashed, they said. IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha termed the accident as very unfortunate.

“It is a sad moment for all of us and we share the grief with the families. The best pilots have been chosen to fly these aircraft,” he said. “Events like these are painful reminders of the inherent risks which our brave warriors face in the execution of our daily mission,” said the IAF Chief.

India had recently inducted six Super Hercules aircraft, which were bought from the US and delivered in phases from 2011 onwards. The cost of each plane was around Rs 730 crore as per dollar-rupee exchange rates when the deal was signed in 2008. The six planes had cost $ 962 million, Defence Minister AK Antony had told Parliament.

The crash is seen as a major jolt to the military that has lost a second strategic asset in less than one year - INS Sindhurakshak had sunk off the Mumbai harbour on August 14 last year. Such assets form the backbone of any military operation.

Experts from IAF’s air operations and flight safety wings are trying to ascertain how such an advanced plane crashed without a warning. It has four turbo-prop engines manufactured by Rolls Royce. Even if three engines fail, a highly improbable development, the plane will still land. The details would be clear after the CoI is completed. The IAF may call the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin or the engine-maker, Rolls Royce, for the inquiry.

The planes have completed many daring missions successfully. It includes landing at Dharasu in Uttarakhand in June last year to drop fuel supplies on very short runaway during flood-relief operations. A C-130-J also made a touch-down at the highest advanced landing ground at Daulat Beg Oldie in northern Ladakh.

In February this year, 71 persons had died when a plane of this type crashed in Algeria, Africa.

How it happened

* Two C-130J Super Hercules aircraft took off together from Agra base at 10 am for a tactical exercise, which involved flying at very low heights.

* One of the aircraft just dropped from the sky and crashed around 11 am. IAF sources said the aircraft could not even communicate about the emergency before it lost contact with ground control.

IAF baffled

It is rare for such a high technology plane to crash. The C-130-J is fitted with four turbo-prop Rolls Royce engines. Even if three engines fail, a highly improbable development, the plane will still land, say experts





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