A Cheetah helicopter of the Indian Army crashed in Kashmir’s Gurez sector on Friday, killing one of its pilots. The other pilot is being treated at the 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar.
The Army said in a statement that the helicopter “crashed in Baraub area of Gurez in Bandipora district this afternoon, while on a routine mission to evacuate an ailing soldier from a forward post”.
The helicopter, the Army said, “lost communication with the forward post at Gujran, Baraub”. A search operation on foot was immediately launched by the Indian Army alongside search and rescue helicopters which were pressed into service, and the “wreckage of the helicopter was found in a snow-bound Gujran Nallah area of North Kashmir’s Bandipora.”
The grievously injured pilot and the co-pilot were evacuated to the Command Hospital, Udhampur, the Army said.
“Maj Sankalp Yadav, 29, the co-pilot succumbed to his injuries at 92 Base Hospital. The injured pilot of Lt Colonel rank is critical but stable. Events leading to the crash of the helicopter are being ascertained,” the Army said.
Yadav was commissioned in 2015 and was a resident of Jaipur. He is survived by his father, the Army stated. Army sources said the helicopter had taken off from Sharifabad and was going towards Dawar, when it lost communication. It was to evacuate two soldiers, one of the Border Security Forces and another of the Army, when it crashed. A Court of Inquiry will ascertain the facts of the accident and what caused it, the Army said.
Since March 2017 as many as 15 Air Force and Indian Army helicopters have crashed in which more than 30 personnel from the two forces have lost their lives.
In one of the worst helicopter crashes in recent times, country’s first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat was killed along with his wife and 12 other personnel from the Army and the Air Force when the Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu in December last year.
According to information shared by Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt with the Lok Sabha in December, the other crashes since 2017 include four other Cheetah helicopter—two each for the Army and the Air Force.