NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — A Mi-17 V5 chopper of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has crashed in India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh that borders China. All seven people on board, including two personnel of the Indian Army, have been killed in the accident.
Sources told Sputnik that the accident site is mere 12 kilometers away from Tawang — a disputed territory claimed by both India and China. Earlier this year, China had vociferously protested the Tawang visit of Tibetan leader in exile — the Dalai Lama and the US Ambassador to India.
"Mi-17 V5 helicopter was on air maintenance mission; crashed at 6 am (Indian Standard Time) in Arunachal Pradesh. A court of inquiry has been ordered," an Indian Air Force official said.
Saddened to learn about tragic crash of IAF helicopter in Arunachal Pradesh; heartfelt condolences to bereaved families #PresidentKovind— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) 6 октября 2017 г.
Last week, a two-seater intermediate trainer aircraft Kiran of Indian Air Force had also crashed near the southern town of Hyderabad during a routine training mission.
"37 fighters and defense aircraft have crashed in the last three years in which 55 people were killed," Subhash Bhamre, India's Minister of State for Defense had told in August this year. These accidents include loss of at least 24 aircraft and five helicopters of the Indian Air Force.
Presently, the IAF is grappling with a severe shortage of aircraft and helicopters. Accidents during peacetime contribute hugely to the shortage.
"Our losses during peacetime are cause for concern. We are making concentrated efforts to minimize accidents& preserve our assets," Indian Air Chief BS Dhanoa had said on Thursday.