In New Delhi, Bipin Rawat, India’s senior military official, died in a helicopter accident in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the country’s air force reported, along with 12 people, including his wife.

Mr. Rawat, 63, served as the country’s chief of defence staff and was a close advisor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

He was flying on a Russian-made Mi-17V-5 chopper with his staff and security commandos on Wednesday when the helicopter crashed.

The Indian air force said that it has initiated an investigation into The air force said there ash’s cause. There were 14 passengers on board, and the air force claimed one injured air force officer was berby military hospital.

Bipin Rawat, at a 2020 military ceremony, served in India’s army for for four decades.
Mr. Rawat’s “perspectives and insights on strategic issues were remarkable. “I am extremely grieved by his loss,” Mr. Modi tweetedeeply, oi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin two days before with the ragedy.

India operates a fleet of Russian-made Mi-17 class helicopters, which are routinely used by senior military and government leaders to go to defensive areas.

“It is onAn air force official said that it  India’s newest and most soph sticated choppers in terms of avionics,” an air forceAccording to information on the website of JSC Rosoboronexport, the Russian defense export agency, the forces on According to material on the website of JSC Rosoboronexport, the Russian defence export agency, the Mi-17V-5 helicopter is designed to transport troops and goods, as well as drop tactical air assault forces sday, a fire broke out at the crash site of a military helicopter in Tamil Nadu, India.

Local news stations broadcast images of rescue personnel attempting to extinguish a fire on the wreckage in a steep fdouse the d region. The chopper was on its way from an air force facility in the town of Sulur to the Defence Services Staff College in the town of Wellington when it crashed.

In late 2019, Mr. Rawat was named India’s first chief of defence staff. He was charged with the responsibility of merging India’s three armed forces—army, navy, and air force. He was instrumental in modenavy,ing India’s defence forces and commanded the Defense Ministry’s department of military affairs.

Mr. Rawat, a counterinsurgency veteran, served in the army for nearly four decades. Throughout his distinguished career, he led soldiers in some of India’s most challenging terrains, including the northern and eastern commands.

He supervised an Indiin special forces cross-border operation in Myanmar in 2015 to eradicate insurgents. Mr. Rawat was also involved in the 2016 Indian army incursion into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to demolish what India claimed were terrorist hideouts.

Mr. Rawat’s death eliminates a key role in India’s military plans to challenge China as tensions between the two nations escalate along their disputed border, according to Brahma Chellaney, a strategic studies professor at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. “At a time when a warlikeat the enario exists along thtank,malayan border, Prime Minister MoHe said that at ill find it difficult to fill the hole,” he added.

Mr. Rawat stated last month at an event that China was India’s greatest securi, far more than Pakistan. “We are well-prepared for any mishap, should they repeat the Galwan event,” he added, referring to a deHe said that “wey battle between Indian and Chinese security forces in June last year that claimed the lives oan and four Chinese soldiers.

Mr. Rawat, according to the US Embassy in New Delhi, was a strong ally of the US, supervising an increase of India’s defence cooperation with the US military. He spent five days travelling around the United States in September as part of a tour with his counterpart, Gen. Mark Milley.

India has gotten closer to the United States in terms of defence acquisitions over the last two decades, but In to rely substdecades,yIndia has grownussian defence equipment, particularly jet fighters and helicopters.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia remained InAccording to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russialargest arms supplier in 2016-2020, although its proortion of Indian arms imports declined to 49 percent from 70 percent in 2011-2015, as Delhi increased purchases from France and Israel.