Indian defence chief killed in helicopter crash

India's Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, has been killed after an Indian Air Force Mi-17V5 helicopter in which he was travelling crashed on the morning of December 8.

The official Twitter account of the Indian Air Force had earlier confirmed the crash stating: “An IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter, with CDS Gen Bipin Rawat on board, met with an accident today near Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.” 

The same model of aircraft, Indian Mi-17V-5 involved in the crash is seen here providing flood relief rescue of marooned villagers from Luhara and Kosadi, Surat district. Indian MOD/PRO Defence Gujarat

Following later IAF confirmation of the death of Rawat, along with his wife and 11 other Indian military personnel, the office of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed "deep grief" over the incident. Gen Rawat was appointed as India's first CDS in 2019.

Initial reports from NDTV stated that “a total of 14 were on board the helicopter, including Rawat, his wife and a security team."

Via videos released with the report, the boom of the helicopter can be seen, and looks to display the serial ZP5164. This aircraft is assigned to the 109 helicopter unit, known as 'The Knights'.

According to the same report, the Mi-17V5 crashed in the Nilgiris in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu. The accident appears to have happened shortly after take-off from Sulur Air Force Station in Coimbatore.

Social media video purportedly of the crash site suggests the helicopter sustained significant fire damage prior to or post the crash.

(This story has been updated following confirmation of the death of Gen Bipin Rawat)