Hyderabad: The year has not begun well for the Indian Air Force, which has lost five aircraft and nine personnel in just two months. The IAF lost a MiG-21 Bison, two Hawks of the Suryakiran team, a Mirage, an MiG-27 and a Mi-7V5 helicopter.
Tragedy struck on February 1, when the IAF lost two of its young test pilots Squadron Leaders Samir Abrol and Siddhartha Negi in the Mirage 2000 crash at HAL Airport in Bengaluru.
On February 12, an IAF MiG-27 crashed at Jaisalmer but the pilot ejected safely.
Two days later, India witnessed one of its deadliest terror attacks. A suicide bomber of the Jaish-e-Mohammed radical outfit, carrying 300 kg of explosives, rammed into a CRPF convoy in Pulwana district of J&K killing 44 jawans.
Five days after the Pulwana attack, two Hawks that were part of the elite Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team, crashed in mid-air during a rehearsal. The pilot Sahil Gandhi died in the crash, a good friend of Wing Commander Abhinandhan Varthaman.
On February 27, a day after Indian Mirage 2000 jets struck a militant training camp in Balakot across the Line of Control, news broke that a MiG-21 Bison jet was downed and its pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandhan Varthaman, was taken prisoner.
On the same day in a Mi-17 V5 helicopter crash at Budgam, India lost six IAF personnel Wg Cdr Sidharth Sharma, Sqn Ldr Ninad Mandavgane, Sgt Vikrant Sehrawat, Cpl Pankaj Kumar, Cpl Deepak Pandey and Cpl Kumar Pandey.
Wg Cdr Sidharth’s unit was operating from the air force base at Srinagar and was responsible for air transport and logistical operations in support of the Army as well as IAF operations in J & K.
The helicopter took off as planned but after flying for about 10 minutes it crashed in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam district about 10 km from Srinagar International Airport. The helicopter broke into pieces and caught fire which made it impossible to save the six-member crew....