Air Force(AF) 12 Wing launched MI-26, the world’s biggest helicopter, to help in the ongoing relief operation in Jammu and Kashmir. The helicopter will operate in the forward areas ahead of Awantipur.
The helicopter took off from the AF 12 Wing, Chandigarh, at about 9 am. It had seven tonnes of load which included one GPU (Generator Protection Unit), diesel, food, and technical equipment.
“The helicopter is not a normal helicopter. It is largest and most powerful helicopter ever to have gone into production. This has been especially designed to meet the heavy lift requirements of the IAF and has a carrying capacity of 30 tonnes,” said Wing Commander G S Tung. He added, “The main rescue operation will start from the Awantipur Air Force Station in Jammu and Kashmir.”
MI-26 will also assist in infrastructure development as it can carry heavy machinery and load in a single sortie. “The helicopter will carry bridges, generators, hospital equipment and other relief material to the flooded areas. As the entire place is submerged in water, there is no possibility of landing of the helicopter in the affected areas. To overcome that, we will carry slung bridges and other heavy equipment,” G S Tung said.The Air Force had also deployed MI-26 in Uttarakhand during Operation Rahat.
Talking about the difference in the two relief operations, he said, “During rescue operations in Uttrakhand, the focus was more on evacuation of people. However, this time in Jammu and Kashmir, with the water level receding, the focus is more on rehabilitating people by providing them infrastructure and relief material.”