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Government Orders Tri-service Inquiry Into Chopper Crash Which Killed Chief Of Defence Staff

Defence Minister makes statement in Parliament, Court of Inquiry to be headed by an IAF Commander-in-Chief

Photo Credit :


The wreckage of the Mi-17 V5 helicopter near Wellington in Tamil Nadu

The Government has ordered a tri-service inquiry into the helicopter crash which killed India’s Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and 12 others on December 8. This was announced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a statement to both Houses of Parliament on December 9.

The tri-service inquiry will be headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the IAF’s Training Command. 

General Rawat, his wife Madhulika and 12 other service personnel were on board the ill-fated Mi-17 V5 helicopter which took off from the Sulur airbase in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, for Wellinton at 11:48 am. The Air Traffic Control at Sulur airbase lost contact with the helicopter at 12:08 pm, seven minutes before its scheduled landing at Wellington. 

The lone survivor from the crash, Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support at the Wellington Military Hospital.

The Defence Minister also announced that the deceased Chief of Defence Staff will be cremated with full military honours. 

This is the full text of the Defence Minister’s statement to both Houses of Parliament on December 9

Statement by Hon’ble Raksha Mantri in Both the Houses of Parliament

With profound grief and heavy heart, I stand to convey the unfortunate news of the crash of the military helicopter in the noon of 8th December 2021, with India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat onboard. 

Gen Bipin Rawat was on a scheduled visit to Defence ServicesStaff College, Wellington to interact with the student Officers. The Air Force Mi 17 V 5 helicopter took off from Sulur Air Base at 11:48 AM yesterday and was expected to land at Wellington by 12:15 PM. Air Traffic Control at Sulur Air Base lost contact with the helicopter at approximately 12:08 PM. Subsequently, few locals spotted a fire in the forest near Coonoor and rushed to the spot where they observed the wreckage of military helicopter engulfed in flames. Rescue teams from the local administration in the vicinity reached the site and attempted to recover the survivors from the crash site. 

All those recovered from the wreckage were rushed to the Military Hospital, Wellington. Latest reports have confirmed that out of the total 14 persons onboard the ill-fated helicopter, 13 have succumbed to their injuries. The dead include the spouse of the CDS, Mrs Madhulika Rawat, his Defence Adviser Brig Lakhbinder Singh Lidder, Staff Officer Lt Col Harjinder Singh and nine other Armed Forces personnel including the Air Force helicopter crew. Their names are Wing Commander Prithvi  Singh Chauhan, Squadron Leader Kuldeep Singh, Junior Warrant Officer Rana Pratap Das, Junior Warrant Officer Arakkal Pradeep, Havildar Satpal Rai, Naik Gursewak Singh, Naik Jitendra Kumar, Lance Naik Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja. Group Captain Varun Singh is on life support in the Military Hospital at Wellington and all efforts are being made to save his life.

A tri Service enquiry regarding the incident has been ordered by Indian Air Force, headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command.

The Chief of Defence Staff would be cremated with full military honours. 

I, on behalf of the august House, pay homage to the deceased persons and express condolences to the bereaved families.

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