Indian Army HAL Rudra Attack Helicopter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh

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A HAL Rudra Attack Helicopter of the Indian Army crashed in Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh on Friday morning killing all five army personnel on board. The Search and Rescue teams has recovered four dead bodies from the crash location. This is the second army helicopter which has crashed in Arunachal this month. Earlier this month, a Cheetah helicopter crashed in Tawang, killing its pilot and injuring other personnel on board. Arunachal Pradesh has a history of chopper crashes in recent years, mostly because of the bad weather.

The Advanced Light Helicopter was conducting its regular routine sortie when it crashed at 10:43am around Migging, south of Tutting. This area is close to the Chinese border.

“A total of five personnel were on board and during the search and rescue operations, the team has recovered the mortal remains of four individuals till now”. Lt Col. Amrinder Singh Walia said in a statement, he is the Tejpur-based defense spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense.

The chopper took off from Likabali in Lower Siang district and crashed in a remote area covered with very dense forest about 140km from the district headquarters of Upper Siang.

Till now the reason of the helicopter crash is unknown, investigations are underway to find the reason.

Soon after the helicopter crashed, the Indian Air Force and Indian Army launched a joint search and rescue operation. Mi-17, ALHs choppers and 3 columns of the army were also launched in the rescue operation.

The crash site of the helicopter is in a very remote area and the nearest villages to the crash site are nearly 140 km from the district headquarters at Yingkiong.

There may be multiple possible reasons behind this unfortunate crash, such as bad weather, technical or mechanical failure in the helicopter systems. The pilots of the helicopter had more than 600 combined flying hours on the advanced light helicopter and over 1,800 service flying hours between them. The helicopter was inducted into service in June 2015.

According to some news reports, the pilots of the crashed helicopter had given a ‘Mayday’ call some moments before the crash. Mayday is a emergency call which the aircraft pilots make through radio in case of any sudden issues with the aircraft systems.

About the HAL RUDRA Attack Helicopter

The HAL Rudra, also known as ALH-WSI, is an armed version of the HAL Dhruv utility helicopter which is designed and produced by the Indian aerospace manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The Rudra was developed in parallel to the HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), a more extensive attack helicopter developed from the Dhruv. Extensive changes from the Dhruv were avoided to produce the Rudra with the express purpose of providing an indigenous armed helicopter faster than the LCH programme could do so.

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A Close-up view of the HAL Rudra Attack Helicopter. (Photo by unknown) 

The Mark III variant features the sensors and mission equipment, but lacked weaponry; the Rudra Mark IV is provisioned with various armaments. The Rudra is equipped with forward looking infrared (FLIR), day-and-night optical cameras, and a Thermal Imaging Sights Interface; armed models feature a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rocket pods, anti-tank guided missiles and air-to-air missiles.

Work on the programme started in December 1998, and the prototype Rudra conducted its maiden flight on 16 August 2007.

Between 2011 and 2013, extensive flight testing of the Rudra took place, during which it was proved to have largely fulfilled or surpassed set requirements. Its primary customer is the Indian Army, who took delivery of the first pair of Rudra helicopters in February 2013, the same month in which the type attained Initial Operational Clearance (IOC).

In addition to the Indian Army, both the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy have taken interest in the type.

The Indian Army currently have 15 HAL Rudra helicopters in service, while 50 more helicopters are on order. The Indian Air Force is currently the largest operater of the HAL Rudra, the airforce operates a total number of 75 helicopters with more than 25 on order.

Crash Records of the HAL Rudra Attack Helicopter

Not much information is available about the past crashes of the HAL Rudra Attack Helicopter. According to little available information one HAL Rudra was crashed last year either on 3 or 4 of August, 2021. The helicopter was part of the Pathankot based 254 Army Aviation squadron and was seen by eyewitnesses taking a sudden dip into the Ranjit Sagar Dam lake, while conducting a low sortie in the area. Two Army pilots were missing after the helicopter crashed in the lake at near Kathua during a routine training mission.

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