New Delhi: In a shocking incident, two pilots were killed on Friday after Indian Army ‘s Cheetah helicopter crashed in Bhutan, sources at the Indian Army said. The Indian Army pilot who died in the crash was of Lt Col (Lieutenant colonel) rank while the other was a Bhutanese Army pilot training with the Indian Army.
Media reports suggested that due to bad weather, the helicopter crashed into a hill near Khentongmani, Yongphulla, Trashigang, in Eastern Bhutan.
The incident happened when the Army chopper was approaching Yongphulla for landing. The chopper was en-route from Khirmu (Arunanchal Pradesh) to Yongphulla for training purpose. The ground search and rescue operation has been started in Yongphulla and the wreckage has also been located.
“An Indian Army Helicopter crashed at 1 pm near Yongphulla in Bhutan. Helicopter went out of radio and visual contact soon after 1 pm. It was enroute from Khirmu (Arunanchal Pradesh) to Yongfulla on duty,” Indian Army Spokesperson, Col Aman Anand told ANI.
He further added that the Ground Search and Rescue (SAR) operation was launched immediately from Yongfulla. “The wreckage has been located. Indian Air Force and Army Helicopters SAR were also launched,” he added.
The chopper belonged to Indian Army’s 667 Army Aviation Squadron based in Misamari in Assam. The incident happened when the chopper was returning after dropping an Indian Army Major General posted with the Indian Army Military Training Team deployed in Bhutan.
As part of the arrangement, Bhutanese pilots undergo training with the Indian Army since 2014-15. According reports, cheetahs are 1960 vintage planes which are in the Indian Army for the past 40 years and many attempts to replace them have been failed for some reasons.
Just two days before, an MiG-21 trainer aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) had on September 25 crashed in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. No casualty was reported in the incident as both the pilots, including a Group Captain and a squadron leader, managed to eject safely. Later Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa regarding the incident and inquired about the condition of both the pilots who had ejected successfully. A Court of Inquiry was also ordered into the crash incident.