During the recent flood relief operations in Uttarakhand IAF responded to this enormous challenge with characteristic speed, resolve and fortitude. On 17 Jun 13, the IAF commenced operations and as reports of the scale of disaster started pouring in; IAF within 48 hours, positioned 45 heptrs of eight different types, operating from eight different locations. Even the Sarang helicopter aerobatic team was inducted to provide greater flexibility in Ops.
Two forward focal points were set up at Dharasu and Gauchar. Further, flying detachments were created at Jolly-grant, Pithoragarh, Dharchula, Joshimath, Rampur, Bageshwar and Shimla. Makeshift helipads were constructed in record time, and on occasion, personnel were even winched down to create air operations facilities.
These forward locations were operationalised with infrastructure build up such as positioning of fuel and Air Traffic Control. Mi-26 was pressed into service to ferry entire fuel bowsers to forward locations. Use of the transport fleet with the C-130 aircraft to innovatively induct fuel, essential for sustenance of relief operations was resorted to. Mobile Air Traffic Control vans were inducted at Dharasu and Gauchar.
During these operations, remarkably in 65 days, IAF undertook 3536 missions and airlifted 23892 civilians and carried 797.589 T of valuable relief material a Herculean effort indeed by any standards.
RECOVERY OF DAMAGED PAWAN HANS HELICOPTER FROM HARSIL TO DEHRADUN BY IAF MI-17 V5 HELICOPTER
The recent flash floods often dubbed by the media as 'Himalayan Tsunami' which ravaged the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal in Jun 13, saw in their wake; some gallant and spirited rescue missions flown by IAF transport and helicopter fleet in the form of 'Op Rahat'. In addition there were also some civil helicopters as well operating towards relief ops in these valleys. One such helicopter operated by Pawan Hans had been damaged due to a hard landing at Harsil helipad and the wreckage was lying at the helipad since then. IAF was approached by Pawan Hans for recovery of this helicopter.
The operations were undertaken in a very systematic, methodical and professional manner. The recovery route from Harsil to Dehradun was majorly through the Bhagirithi/ Ganga valley. This valley is extremely narrow at places with no turning radius being available, and also infested with a heavy network of High Tension Cables crossing the valley at places over tall pylons. In addition due to the location of Harsil at the confluence of three valleys, the winds get strong and turbulent post 0900 hrs. It was the precise coordination between aircrew, ground crew and all agencies involved that resulted in safe recovery of a crashed civil helicopter in under slung mode by a Mi-17 V5. This being a first such mission flown on this type of helicopter, both man and machine operated to their limits within the safety margin to execute the missions in time. Overall, the operation brought out the real mettle of a helicopter crew and at the same time once again proved the versatility of V5 as a platform.
DARING RESCUE OF A BRITISH NATIONAL FROM SASER KANGRI BY 114 HU AF ON 17/18 AUG 13
0n 17 Aug 13, British Embassy in India approached Indian Air Force for evacuation of a British national stranded on the icy slopes of Saser Kangri. Mr. Andrew Dean Parkin a British national, was caught in an avalanche got swept into a crevasse. The fall caused a serious back injury to Mr. Parkin due to which he was unable to move his legs. The other members of the expedition pulled him out of the crevasse immediately asked for emergency evacuation through their organising agency the British Embassy.
A two helicopter rescue team was tasked from 114 HU AF. Casualty was successfully evacuated despite constraints of bad weather, white out conditions and turbulent wind conditions and restricted area of ops at the designated place of evacuation.
IAF participated in Cyclone Hudhud relief operations in Oct 14 in Andhra Pradesh. A total of 47 sorties were flown, airlifting 316.3 tonnes of relief material and 154 passengers.
OP NEER (MALDIVES)
The city of Male on 04 Sep 14, suffered a major drinking water crisis with breakdown of its main RO plant. The city had to be sustained with over 100T of drinking water per day till the plant was re-operationalised. Based on a request by the Govt of Maldives, the IAF responded with alacrity and deployed three C-17 and three IL-76 aircraft to airlift packaged water from Delhi to Arakkonam, and thereon to Male. Between 05-07 Sep 14, IAF airlifted 374 Tonnes of drinking water to Male.
OP RAHAT (OPERATION YEMEN EVACUATION)
The State of Yemen was pushed into a crisis situation due to developing civil was situation in Mar 15. Coalition Arab forces had commeneced air strikes in Yemen in the last week of Mar 15. The Govt of India assessed a requirement of immediate evacuation of over 4000 Indian nationals based at various locations in Yemen. A combined MEA, IAF, Indian Navy and Air India evacuation plan was put into place for evacuation of Indian nationals. While Indian Naval ship evacuated nationals from Yemenese port cities to Djibouti and Air India ferried back nationals from Sana to Djibouti, IAF deployed three C-17 aircraft to ferry back Indian nationals from Djibouti to Kochi and Mumbai. As many as of 11 evacuation trips were undertaken by IAF aircraft that facilitated safe evacuation of 2096 Indian nationals.