IAF's new Super Hercules aircraft crashes, 5 killed

Last Updated 28 March 2014, 21:29 IST

The Indian Air Force (IAF) lost five men as one of its brand new transport aircraft, the C-130J Super Hercules, crashed near Gwalior on Friday. There were no survivors.

The four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft took off from Agra at 10 am on a routine training mission. Minutes later it crashed 72 miles west of the Gwalior airbase.

Those killed in the crash are Wing Commanders P Joshi (Captain) and R Nair (Co-Pilot), Squadron Leaders K Mishra (Trainee Pilot) and A Yadav (Navigator) and Warrant Officer K P Singh (System Operator).

As an IAF officer becomes a Wing Commander typically after 13 years of flying and a cadet becomes a Squadron Leader after 7 years of flying, it is evident everybody on board were experienced pilots.

“It is an accident about which you cannot attribute a reason at the moment (sic),” said Air Chief Marshal (retired) P V Naik, to Deccan Herald.

It was during his tenure as IAF chief that these aircraft were inducted.
IAF sources said the aircraft literally “fell from the sky” and pilots had little response time. Officers at air headquarters were at loss to explain how it happened. The C-130J Super Hercules has four powerful engines with wingspan of 40 metres and can land even on a small patch of non-metalled track.

“This is very very unusual, unbelievable and unfortunate (sic). C-130J is such a stable platform with so many safety systems,” said Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora, a former IAF vice chief.

The ill-fated plane was flying with another C-130J, which landed safely at Gwalior. It is not clear at the moment if the “buddy” received any emergency communication from the pilot or co-pilot of the other aircraft.

India purchased six C-130J carriers from the USA in a Rs 5,800 crore ($ 962.4 million) government to government deal. The first aircraft was inducted in February 2011. The squadron, also known as Veiled Viper, is based at Hindon base in Ghaziabad.

Satisfied with the performance of the first six, India ordered six more C-130Js to be kept at Panagarh air base in West Bengal.

(Published 28 March 2014, 21:29 IST)

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