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Varun Singh No More: IAF Pilot Had 'Exemplary Composure' in Toughest Situations

Thirteen, including CDS Bipin Rawat, had earlier lost their lives in the fatal helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu.

Updated
India
3 min read

Video Producer: Shohini Bose

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

Indian Air Force’s (IAF's) Group Captain Varun Singh, who was heavily injured in the Coonoor helicopter crash, passed away on Wednesday, 15 December.

The helicopter crash had led to the death of 13 others, including Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat, on Wednesday, 8 December. On Wednesday, Varun Singh too succumbed to his injuries.

Directing Staff at the Defence Services Staff College, Varun Singh, was in critical condition, and was undergoing treatment at the military hospital in Wellington, as per the IAF.

Akhilesh Singh, uncle of Group Captain Varun Singh, had said that he had gone through some major operations.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in a tweet on 8 December, had wished for Singh's speedy recovery.

"Praying for the speedy recovery of Gp Capt Varun Singh, who is currently under treatment at the Military Hospital, Wellington.”

Special arrangements were made by the Tamil Nadu government to treat Singh at a hospital in Coimbatore, in case the Air Force decided it wanted to move him there.

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More About Varun Singh, the Sole Survivor and a Shaurya Chakra Awardee

Group Captain Varun Singh was a pilot in a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Squadron.

Then wing commander, he was awarded the Shaurya Chakra by the president on Independence Day 2021, for saving an LCA Tejas fighter aircraft during an aerial emergency in 2020.

On 12 October 2020, Singh had been flying a system check sortie in the LCA, when the cockpit pressurisation failed at high altitude.

"He correctly identified the failure and initiated a descent to lower altitude for landing. While descending, the Flight Control System failed and led to total loss of control of the aircraft. This was an unprecedented catastrophic failure that had never occurred... Despite being in extreme physical and mental stress in an extreme life-threatening situation, he maintained exemplary composure and regained control of the aircraft, thereby exhibiting exceptional flying skill."
Ministry of Defence

Soon thereafter, at about 10,000 feet, the aircraft again experienced total loss of control with vicious manoeuvring and uncontrollable pitching.

"Faced with a potential hazard to his own life, he displayed extraordinary courage and skill to safely land the fighter aircraft. The pilot went beyond the call of duty and landed the aircraft taking calculated risks... he not only averted the loss of an LCA, but also safeguarded civilian property, and population on ground," as per a Defence Ministry statement.

Singh's efforts had allowed an accurate analysis of the fault on the indigenously designed fighter, and further institution of preventive measures against recurrence of such an event.

The Fatal Helicopter Crash

CDS Bipin Rawat passed away on 8 December, after an IAF Mi-17V5 helicopter conveying the military officer, his wife, and other officials, met with a fatal crash in Tamil Nadu.

A total of 14 persons were on-board the aircraft that hurtled to a tragic fate in Coonoor, while it was heading to Wellington base.

Defence communication accessed by The Quint with regard to the flight manifest shows that the chopper from Delhi to Sulur was carrying CDS Rawat and his wife, as well as Brigadier LS Lidder, Defence Adviser to Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Colonel Harjinder Singh, NK Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kumar, Vivek Kumar, Lance Naik B Sai Teja, and Hav Satpal.

Lance Naik B Sai Teja, who hailed from Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, is survived by his parents, wife, and two children.

Lance Naik B Sai Teja from Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor passed away in the fatal crash.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Wing Commander Prithvi Singh Chauhan was the pilot of the Mi-17V5 which crashed in Coonoor, news agency ANI reported, citing sources.

"Gen Bipin Rawat was an outstanding soldier. A true patriot, he greatly contributed to modernising our armed forces and security apparatus. His insights and perspectives on strategic matters were exceptional. His passing away has saddened me deeply. Om Shanti," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted after the news of the CDS' death.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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