The death of India CDS Bipin Singh Rawat has sent waves of shock across nation. But how did India lose its most gallant general alive?
On December 8, 2021, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, and 11 persons including his wife were killed in a helicopter crash. Mr. Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, and 10 prominent Indians were abord an Indian Air Force helicopter Mi-17V.
Interestingly enough, the Mi-17V is one of the safest and technically advanced helicopters possessed by the Indian Air Force. Moreover, it was being piloted by late Prithvi Singh Chauhan, a decorated Wing Commander who was the commander of 109 helicopter unit, Coimbatore
The Facts of the Matter
Country’s most senior and one of the highest decorated military officers, General Bipin Rawat died in a helicopter crash on Wednesday this week. He was appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff earlier on January 1, 2020, thanks to his illustrious career that spanned over more than three decades. He was aboard a helicopter along with his wife, Madhulika Rawat, who also passed away in the crash. Mrs. Rawat was also the president of the Defence Wives Welfare Association.
The Crash As It Happened
Late CDS Rawat was on his way to deliver a lecture at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. On Wednesday morning, CDS Rawat and 12 others flew to the Sulur Air Force Station, Coimbtore from Delhi.
At the Sulur Air Force Station, the crew got onboard a Mi-17V5 helicopter which crashed at Katteri in the Nilgiris sometime post noon. Reportedly, the last time the helicopter was in contact with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) was at 12:22 PM, after which the helicopter lost contact.
According to reports that cited eye witnesses from the accident, the Mi-17V5 crashed with a huge booming sound. Immediately the helicopter caught fire and smoke filled the area. Another eye-witness also added that they saw a person coming out of the chopper who was in flames.
What Do We Know About the Helicopter that Crashed?
As mentioned earlier, the Mi-17 V is one of the safest and technically most advanced helicopters in the Indian Air Force fleet. The helicopter has been designed and manufactured to carry out multiple operations – carry troops, carry cargo, and emergency tactical operations which requires the helicopter to be both fast and carry ammunitions.
The ammunition system in the helicopter includes top-of-the line specifications, including unguided missiles, 250 round cannons. Further, it also features a intensively armoured cockpit, defence system against heat-seeking missiles, etc.
According to an Indian Express report, that cited an IAF officer, the past record of the Mi-17V showed a 100% reliability. Further, the last few sorties of the helicopter showed no glitches or mechanical failures.
As the helicopter was to take one of the most important individuals from the defence staff, it also went through a multi-stage mechanical check. After the checks came clear, the access to the chopper was sealed, so that no tampering could take place.
Helicopter Black Box Found
A day after the Mi-17V 5 crash that killed CDS Rawat, his wife, and 11 others, the helicopter black box was found by the search and investigation team. The black box was found when the authorities increased the search to up to 1 kilometer from 300m of the accident spot. The black box stores all the communication records between pilots, radio traffic announcements, and other crucial data.
#Blackbox retrieved from the crash site of the #AFMi17V5 helicopter.
The black box can reveal the data about the helicopter's final flight situation and cockpit conversations pic.twitter.com/2J8bRN5e7p
— DD News (@DDNewslive) December 9, 2021
How the World Reacted to CDS Bipin Rawat’s Demise?
While the news of the helicopter crash was confirmed by the Indian Air Force sometime Wednesday noon, the death of the CDS staff on board was confirmed later at 6:03 in evening. “With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs. Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident,” the IAF tweeted.
With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) December 8, 2021
After the news was confirmed, Indian President and Commander in Chief Ram Nath Kovind took to Twitter and wrote, “I am shocked and anguished over the untimely demise of Gen. Bipin Rawat and his wife, Madhulika ji. The nation has lost one of its bravest sons. His four decades of selfless service to the motherland was marked by exceptional gallantry and heroism. My condolences to his family.”
I am shocked and anguished over the untimely demise of Gen. Bipin Rawat and his wife, Madhulika ji. The nation has lost one of its bravest sons. His four decades of selfless service to the motherland was marked by exceptional gallantry and heroism. My condolences to his family.
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) December 8, 2021
PM Modi also condoled the death of the Indian General and tweeted, “I am deeply anguished by the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which we have lost Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. They served India with utmost diligence. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.”
I am deeply anguished by the helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which we have lost Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and other personnel of the Armed Forces. They served India with utmost diligence. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 8, 2021
A very sad day for the nation as we have lost our CDS, General Bipin Rawat Ji in a very tragic accident. He was one of the bravest soldiers, who has served the motherland with utmost devotion. His exemplary contributions & commitment cannot be put into words. I am deeply pained.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) December 8, 2021
Deeply anguished by the sudden demise of Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 other Armed Forces personnel in an extremely unfortunate helicopter accident today in Tamil Nadu.
His untimely death is an irreparable loss to our Armed Forces and the country.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) December 8, 2021
Very sad to hear of the tragic crash in which we have lost Gen Bipin Rawat his wife and other personnel from the Armed forces. My thoughts my prayers and condolences are with the bereaved families …
— Salman Khan (@BeingSalmanKhan) December 8, 2021
My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of CDS Shri Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and the Army officials and IAF crew involved in the unfortunate helicopter accident in Coonoor. May God give them strength. Om shanti. 🙏🏻
— Neeraj Chopra (@Neeraj_chopra1) December 8, 2021
Extremely tragic… My heartfelt condolences to family and friends of CDS General Bipin Rawat and the 11 army personnel. We will always be grateful for your service towards our nation.
— Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) December 8, 2021