May 24, 2012
NEW DELHI: AnArmy pilot
was killed and another injured when their Cheetah helicopter crashed near the Bhim post, at an altitude of around 6,000 metres, in the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region on Wednesday morning.
Major Chandrashekhar Singh and his co-pilot, Major Amit Mahendroo, had just taken off from the Bhim post on the northern glacier around 11.15 am when their Cheetah crashed barely 400 metres from the helipad. "Major Singh died on the spot while Major Mahendroo was subsequently evacuated to Leh and then to Chandigarh with head injuries,'' said an official.
The ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters have been flying in the Siachen region for over 25 years to provide logistical support and "air maintenance'' to Army troops deployed in high altitude areas ranging from 10,000 to 23,000 feet.
The Cheetahs continue to be used to service forward locations, including outposts in Ladakh and Kashmir Himalayas, and for "patrol and reconnaissance missions'' along the Line of Control. The armed forces for long have been waiting to induct 197 new "light utility'' helicopters for high-altitude and other operations but the project has already been scrapped twice.