Amid ongoing rescue efforts at the Silkyara tunnel in Uttarakhand, the Indian Air Force (IAF) swung into action and deployed a C-17 transport aircraft to airlift nearly 22 tons of critical equipment from Indore to Dehradun.
Working relentlessly around the clock, rescue workers managed to clear up to 24 meters of debris in the Silkyara tunnel, bringing them closer to the 40 workers trapped inside for five agonizing days.
Demonstrating its unwavering commitment to save lives, the IAF has been actively involved in the ongoing rescue operations. His C-17 aircraft was instrumental in transporting critical equipment, including a powerful machine, from Indore to Dehradun, providing much-needed assistance to rescue teams.
Highlighting the challenges faced by the IAF during its rescue mission near Uttarkashi on November 15, sources within the force revealed that an equipment failure forced a temporary halt to operations.
Undeterred by this setback, the IAF quickly mobilized its C-130J Super Hercules Special Operations Platform to deliver essential equipment as close as possible to the rescue site. A testament to the expertise and efficiency of the IAF, the entire operation was carried out in a remarkable five hours.
The success of the mission depended on the identification of the Dharasu ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) at Chinyalisaur as the nearest possible site for rapid operation. Dharasu ALG, located approximately 30 km from the rescue site, presented a challenge due to its short and narrow 3,600-foot airstrip, located at an altitude of 3,000 feet above mean sea level.
The IAF, in collaboration with the civil administration and the Border Communications Organization (BRO), used an integrated approach to overcome logistical hurdles.
Before the final mission, an IAF helicopter was launched to assess the feasibility of operations at the Dharas ALG. Initial feasibility testing made the ALG unsuitable for routine operations, necessitating a careful and deliberate decision to commission it for this critical mission.
The helicopter operation involving the C-130J pilot was carefully planned to evaluate obstacles and runway conditions. Several approximations were made to ensure the most appropriate course of action before releasing the ALG for such critical operations.
The success of the mission depended on two critical aspects: ALG capability and the successful execution of the operation. Remarkably, the ALG was cleared in a short period, allowing the operation of a large platform such as the C-130J.
The IAF undertook three missions and airlifted 27.5 tonnes of critical rescue equipment to the short airstrip.
Missions were further complicated by reduced visibility conditions at takeoff, difficult landings on a short and narrow runway, and unloading in a confined space. Offloading critical material at such a remote location presented a significant operational challenge as the Dharasu ALG lacked specialized equipment for offloading from C130J aircraft.
During one of the cargo unloading operations, a makeshift mud ramp was created to avoid any delay in subsequent rescue efforts.
Image Source: NDTV