Heavy-lifter C-17 carries out remarkable rescue from Sudan: IAF
India has thus far evacuated 3,862 people from Sudan under Operation Kaveri, including 47 passengers who arrived on Friday in a C-130J aircraft
In another rescue mission carried out by the Indian Air Force (IAF) from Sudan, a C-17 heavy-lifter of the IAF airlifted 192 people from the war-torn country on Thursday, with the full mission lasting almost 24 hours with a refuelling stop at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, officials familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The mission comes on the back of a rescue mission carried out by a C-130J special operations aircraft in April-end.
The IAF’s C-17 aircraft took off from Hindan on May 3-4 at midnight, landed and refuelled in Jeddah on May 4 morning, then flew to Port Sudan, from where it airlifted the passengers - mostly children, women and elderly- to Ahmedabad in Gujarat before flying back to the Hindan air base on Thursday night, the officials said.
“At Sudan, the aircraft carried out an overhead steep tactical arrival followed by an assault approach to land the heavy jet,” the IAF said in a statement on Friday.
“During the entire duration of the ground operations, the aircraft engines were kept running in readiness of a quick exit from the airfield, in case of such a need arising,” IAF said.
India has thus far evacuated 3,862 people from Sudan under Operation Kaveri, including 47 passengers who arrived on Friday in a C-130J aircraft.
“Prime Minister @narendramodi’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of all Indians abroad was our inspiration. Moving passengers to Port Sudan from various locations across the country in precarious security circumstances was a complex exercise. Via 17 Indian Airforce flights and 5 Indian Navy Ship sorties, our people were moved from Port Sudan to safety in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 86 nationals were evacuated through the countries bordering Sudan,” external affairs minister S Jaishankar wrote on Twitter on Friday.
The C-17 aircraft took excess fuel from Jeddah to avoid a situation of non-availability of fuel and refuelling delays in Sudan, the IAF said in a statement.
“The mission was one of a kind, with the aircraft carrying 192 passengers, mostly ladies, children and elderly persons, who either were NRIs, foreign nationals or OCIs (Overseas Citizens of India). These people were not permitted a landing at Jeddah, and hence were required to be flown directly to India in a nonstop flight by the heavy jet,” said IAF.
The crew encountered an emergency when a passenger fell unconscious during the flight, but the crew immediately administered oxygen and stabilised him, it stated.
The crew flew through extended duty periods of nearly 24 hours to get some of the last stranded countrymen back to India, it added.
The IAF had carried out another remarkable operation on April 27-28 at midnight when a C-130J rescued 121 personnel from a small airstrip at Wadi Sayyidna, about 40 km north of Khartoum. The airstrip had a degraded surface, with no navigational approach aids, fuel or landing lights.
“Upon landing, the aircraft engines were kept running while eight IAF Garud Commandos secured the passengers and their luggage into the aircraft. As with the landing, the take-off from the unlit runway was also carried out using night vision goggles,” IAF had said.
The flight from Wadi Sayyidna which was executed at great risk also deserves recognition, Jaishankar wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Operation Kaveri comes on the back of India’s gruelling rescue and relief effort, codenamed Operation Dost, in earthquake-ravaged Turkey in February. India was one of the first responders to the natural disaster that hit parts of Turkey and Syria and killed tens of thousands of people.
The evacuation of Indian nationals from Sudan has again turned the spotlight on the impressive humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities created by India’s armed forces in recent decades and its ability to reach out to citizens in distress in far corners of the world.