The Indian Air Force (IAF) airlifted 27,500 kg of critical rescue equipment under extremely challenging conditions to a gravel airstrip high up in the mountains of Uttarakhand, where 40 workers are trapped for over 120 hours under a collapsed tunnel.
The “non-routine critical operation” was quite complex with no room for error as the length of the advanced landing ground (ALG) in Uttarakhand’s Dharasu was short, and the IAF aircraft was arriving with a high landing weight due to the heavy equipment that weighed roughly the same as a fully-loaded big truck, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Before the green light for the mission, the pilots of the US-origin C-130J Super Hercules flew in an IAF helicopter over the ALG to assess obstructions and the runway condition. Multiple approaches were flown by the helicopter to ensure that the most suitable call is taken before clearing the ALG for such critical operations, sources said.
The Dharasu ALG, some 30 km from the tunnel rescue site, was the nearest landing ground albeit with a short and narrow airstrip of 3,600 feet (1.1 km) at an elevation of 3,000 feet above mean sea level.
Two C-130Js flew to Agra and Palam to check the heavy equipment they would carry if the ALG was confirmed as safe for landing, sources said. During earlier feasibility trial, the Dharasu ALG was made unfit for routine operations by the C-130Js.
The entire mission hinged upon two critical aspects i.e. ALG fitness and success of the operation. Sources said the mission was undertaken amidst the challenges of reduced visibility conditions during departure, heavyweight landing on a short and narrow airstrip and offloading (cargo) in constricted space.
The Dharasu ALG did not have specialised equipment required for offloading from the C-130J. In one of the cargo offloading, a mud ramp was created locally to avoid delay in subsequent rescue operations.
“The thorough professionalism of the IAF aircrew flying the C-130Js was evident wherein the whole operation was executed within less than five hours,” a source said.
Lockheed Martin on its website says the C-130J goes where other airlift can’t, underlining its workhorse status as of 25 operators in 21 nations, supporting any mission whenever and wherever it calls.
Elite rescue teams from Thailand and Norway, including the one that successfully rescued trapped children from a cave in Thailand in 2018, have joined the Indian rescuers to help in the ongoing operation.
The trapped workers are safe and being provided oxygen, medicines, food and water through air compressed pipes.
(The following story may or may not have been edited by NEUSCORP.COM and was generated automatically from a Syndicated Feed. NEUSCORP.COM also bears no responsibility or liability for the content.)