In a major setback to the Air Force, a newly acquired US-made C-130J transport aircraft today crashed near Gwalior after taking off from Agra air base, killing five crew members, including four officers.
Two Wing Commanders, two Squadron Leaders and another crew member were killed in the Super Hercules Special Operations plane crash, Defence PRO told PTI in Jaipur.
"One C-130J aircraft crashed 72 miles (115 km) west of Gwalior air base. The aircraft was airborne from Agra at 1000 hours for a routine flying training mission. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate into the cause of the accident," an IAF spokesperson said in New Delhi.
Senior officials, including Superintendent of Police, Karauli, have rushed to the spot of the crash along Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh border.
India had recently inducted six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, which were bought from the US at the cost of around Rs 6000 crore (USD 1.1 billion) three years ago. The per unit cost of the aircraft comes to around Rs 1,000 crore.
The home base of the 77 squadron 'Veiled Vipers' operating the aircraft is Hindon in Ghaziabad near here. The aircraft can carry upto 20 tonnes of load and can land and take-off from short runways.
IAF had recently landed the aircraft at the high-altitude Daulat Beg Oldie air field near China border. The planes have augmented IAF's capability to airlift troops closer to the borders in times of emergency, Air Force officials said.
They said Air Force Chief Arup Raha has briefed Defence Minister A K Antony about the crash. Senior officers from the Air Headquarters have been dispatched to the crash site, they said.
Local IAF units have also rushed officers and men in choppers to the accident area, they said.
The multi-role special operations aircraft had been used recently in the search operation for the missing Malaysian airliner MH 370.
The Defence Ministry had recently signed a contract with the US government for procurement of six additional C130J planes which are to be deployed in Panagarh in West Bengal.