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01:00 PM, September 27, 2019
Indian Army's Cheetah Chopper Crashes, Both Pilots Killed
Indian Army's Cheetah helicopter crashes on Friday, killing both pilots onboard (image via Indian media)

Two pilots were killed on Friday after a Cheetah helicopter belonging to the Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) crashed in Bhutan.

"An Indian Army Helicopter crashed at 1 pm near Yongphulla in Bhutan. The helicopter went out of radio and visual contact soon after 1 pm. It was en-route from Khirmu (Arunanchal Pradesh) to Yongfulla on duty," Col Aman Anand, Indian Army Spokesperson said.

This accident is the second in the week- on September 25, a MiG-21 fighter jet belonging to the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed while on a routine training mission in the city of Gwalior, located in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The rotorcraft was carrying one pilot each from India and Bhutan. It was en-route from Khirmu (Arunanchal Pradesh, India) to Yongfulla (Bhutan) on duty when it crashed into a hill at around 1 pm, Indian media reported.

The sources told India Today TV that the incident took place when the Indian Army chopper was approaching Yongfulla for landing, but instead, it crashed into the nearby hill, Khentongmani. Both Indian and Bhutanese army officers were reportedly killed on the spot.

Col Aman Anand added that a ground search and rescue operation was launched from Yongfulla and the wreckage was located.

The chopper belonged to Indian Army's 667 Army Aviation Squadron based in Misamari in Assam. The chopper was returning after dropping an Indian Army Major General posted with Indian Army Military Training Team deployed in Bhutan, ET reported.

 As a part of the arrangement between Indian and Bhutan, Bhutanese pilots have been training with the Indian Army since 2014-15.

The army operates a mix of about 150 Cheetahs and Chetaks. The Cheetahs play a crucial role in supporting the army on the Siachen glacier, one of the world’s highest battlefields, flying at more than 20,000 feet.

These were to be replaced by new choppers because the design of these helicopters is more than 50 years old. Their airworthiness is being questioned after a string of mishaps. Nine personnel were killed in six accidents involving these machines during 2012-15.

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