Defence officials said the four-seater Cheetah helicopter took off from the army's 3 Corps headquarters in Dimapur, Nagaland, at 7.50 am en route to Imphal in Manipur. It lost contact with the ground staff around 8.50 am.
"The helicopter was on a routine sortie. There were three persons on board that included the pilot, co-pilot and an officer," said defence spokesman Colonel R.K. Palta. "An inquiry has been ordered."
The bodies of the three officers — Colonel P.K. Pal, Major Nikhil Rana, Major Rakesh Sharma — were recovered. They were sent to Naga Hospital Kohima for post-mortem.
The army has ordererd a court of inquiry. GOC 3 Corps expressed grief over the incident.
Scattered villagers near Dzukou Valley said they informed the police after spotting the debris.
Army helicopters, they said, fly regularly past their villages, but this chopper was flying very low.