5 IAF officers killed as 1.1 bn $ Super Hercules plane crashes

NEW DELHI: In a major setback to the Indian Air Force, a newly acquired US-made C-130J transport aircraft on Friday crashed near Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, killing five crew members, including four officers.

C-130J Super Hercules special operations transport aircraft crashed 70 miles west of Gwalior after taking off from Agra air base, officials said.

The crash comes a little over three years after the IAF inducted the first of its six planes.

"The aircraft was airborne from Agra at 1000 hours for a routine flying training mission. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate into the cause of the accident," an IAF spokesperson said.

Two Wing Commanders, two Squadron Leaders and another crew member were killed in the plane crash, Defence PRO said.

India had recently inducted six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, which were bought from the US at the cost of around Rs 6000 crore (USD 1.1 billion) three years ago. The per unit cost of the aircraft comes to around Rs 1,000 crore

The IAF had on August 20, 2013 landed the plane at the world's highest airstrip in north-eastern Ladakh, barely eight km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), signalling India's aggressive stance towards China following a spurt in incursions in that sensitive sector.

The aircraft, belonging to the IAF's Veiled Vipers squadron based at Hindon, touched down at the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) airstrip located at a height of 16,614 feet in the disputed Aksai Chin area on August 20, 2013.

The landing was described by the defence ministry as a "significant capability demonstration move by the IAF".

The plane, powered by four Rolls Royce engines, can carry 92 combat troops and has a range of 3,332 km and a top speed of 671 kmph. Built by US aerospace major Lockheed Martin, it can carry out precision low-level flying, airdrops and landing in blackout conditions.

The aircraft can be used for a variety of missions such as special operations, combat delivery, peacekeeping, low intensity conflict, search and rescue, disaster relief and humanitarian missions.

The planes are operated by 15 countries including the air forces of the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark and Italy. Trans Asia

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