New Delhi: The Border Security Force aircraft which met a tragic fate killing ten on board is mandated to fly officers of the rank of joint secretary and above, according to the Standard Operating Procedures for the use of the aircraft by the force.
It’s only for operational emergencies that it’s allowed to fly soldiers of a lower rank. BSF chief D.K. Pathak told this newspaper that he has evacuated jawans using this aircraft himself on three occasions at least and was recently scheduled to use the aircraft on his return from Bhuj.
For an air-wing that is hard pressed for accommodating the needs of all the Central armed police forces, Mr Pathak said the BSF air wing expansion is taking place in a big way and he hopes the border guarding force will be self-sufficient in the years to come.
The BSF fleet of choppers and aircrafts has recently got state of art eight new additions, five of which have already become part of the airwing, while three others are coming from Russia. The Central paramilitary force, which happens to be the only force to have got its own exclusive airwing, is also busy getting its pilots trained, a process which will take time since the pilots need to complete a set number of flying hours to become proficient in their job. Till such time, the pilots who are with the BSF, have been acting as co-pilots with the IAF personnel and others.
Presently, six pilots are undergoing training at the IAF academy in Bengaluru. Terming the incident most tragic and a setback to the airwing at a time when its expansion plans are afoot, Mr Pathak disclosed that the force is paying highest attention to maintenance and training.
Slow and steady, the BSF’s air wing, which has its bases in New Delhi, Raipur, Ranchi, Agartala and Srinagar, has got full control of two bases — Ranchi and Srinagar recently. The tragic incident has come as a wakeup call for the Union home ministry, which is keen on providing sufficient air support to its paramilitary forces operating in difficult terrains across several zones, including the Maoist belts in the country.
The BSF air wing expansion will be important to provide critical assistance not only in transportation of troops and sending reinforcements but also rescuing those injured....