With 10 of its most experienced men being killed in a tragic crash on Tuesday, the elite Border Security Force air wing is staring at one of its biggest losses and a vacuum created in its ranks raised exclusively for air support roles for troops deployed to ensure the internal security of the country.
The three officers and other technicians and engineers flying the lone 1995 vintage Superking B-200 of the BSF were also trained to handle the most modern asset the force has inducted recently in its inventory – the Mi-17 V5.
This advanced ‘Mi’ chopper is equipped with an all-weather radar that makes it the most reliable machine for extricating troops and inserting commandos for operations in dense jungles and high-altitude any time of the day and during darkness and bad weather.
“The six technicians who were killed were trained to take care of the Mi-17 V5’s inducted recently. While two such choppers have just been inducted early this year, six more will come in batches in the BSF airwing.
“The choppers are required to cater to the increasing usage and role of security forces deployed along difficult border areas and in the internal security grid,” a senior official said.
These men whom we have lost, the official said, were experienced and had in-depth knowledge of these assets entrusted with the largest border guarding force of the country.
“They were going to service a Dhruv chopper stationed in Ranchi,” another official said.
The official said the crash in Dwarka has come as the biggest ever hit to this small unit which has about 30 flying machines, including helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts, and about 200 personnel.
“There have been crashes of choppers earlier which has not only led to loss of the asset but has also killed pilots and crew in the line of duty but this is a jolt,” the official said.
The intake in the air wing is already less, the official said, considering the specialised nature of the job and difficulty in getting talented personnel and officers from other forces and the Indian Air Force.
“The crash has come at a time when the BSF is completing 50 years in the service of the nation. It already has a number of challenges to meet vis-a-vis keeping the two most important borders of the country with Pakistan and Bangaldesh secure and this accident is surely a big test of nerves for the top brass and the government,” another official serving in the wing said.
As per records, early today at 9:45 AM, a call from a satellite-based device was received at the Palam hangar about some “mis-happening” with the now ill-fated plane, registered as VT-BSA, and at 9:50 AM the ATC Palam confirmed that the aircraft has “crashed” in Dwarka.
The BSF air wing has a fleet of four fixed wing aircraft, one Embraer, two Avros and the crashed Superking (SKA B-200).
Besides 15 helicopters consisting of six MI-17 1V, two advanced Mi-17 V5 choppers, six Advance Light Helicopters (Dhruv) and one Cheetah helicopter operate under the command of the Home Ministry.