Bagdogra (Darjeeling): C-130J, a Lockheed
Martin-built special aircraft, was deployed for the first time
by the elite 77 Squadron in relief operations in quake-hit
Sikkim, an IAF officer said here on Saturday.
"The earthquake struck at 1830 hours and we received a
call at around 1945 hours. In the next one hour, we were ready
with our two new machines to take up this special operation to
provide relief to the people in Sikkim," Gp Capt Tejbir Singh,
the commanding officer of the Hindon-based squadron said here.
The Special Operations aircraft was ready much before the
National Disaster Response Force personnel could arrive at the
air base to board the aircraft, he said.
The aircraft, six of which have been procured from the US
in a USD one billion deal, was the first to reach the base
here with 200 NDRF personnel, 20 tonnes of relief material and
a large number of sniffer dogs for the relief operations.
This was the first time the Lockheed Martin-built
aircraft was deployed in any such operation after its
induction in February this year.
"The C-130J is an extremely versatile aircraft and has
helped us to provide relief to the affected areas," 20 Wing
Commander Air Commodore J Chalapathi said.
Giving a detail on the other operations carried out by
the IAF, he said apart from the fixed wing aircraft which keep
coming and going to the base, five Mi-17s and seven
Cheetah/Chetak helicopters have been dedicated for the relief
"So far, we have airlifted 153.7 tonnes of relief
material and deployed over 691 personnel for carrying out
relief work in the state there," senior Eastern Air Command
official Air Marshal M Matheshwaran said.
He said over 18 casualties have been evacuated from the
affected areas and 135 stranded personnel have also been
brought back to the base here.
Matheshwaran said the main worry for the IAF has been the
inclement weather due to which relief operations could not be
taken up on two days in the last six days.