Following an accident two days ago, the Army has suspended the use of Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), Dhruv, for ‘Slither Down’ operations by its troops

by Ajay Banerjee

‘Slithering Down’ is a technique by which troops are inserted into an operation and they have to ‘come down’ from the helicopter using a special rope that is attached to the body of the helicopter through a contraption.

The twin-engined Dhruv, a sturdy machine--some 200 of these are in use–is produced by Ministry of Defence (MoD)-owned public sector giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Top sources confirmed to the Tribune on Thursday: “Slithering operations have been suspended till the cause of accident is known.” The Army is suspecting material failure–in simple terms a fault with the material and its sturdiness on the copter.

On January 9, three para-commandos were injured, one of them seriously, while practising slithering operations at the New Delhi parade ground. The contraption fitted on to the helicopter had broken off.

The HAL, headquartered at Bengaluru, produces 22-24 advanced light helicopters (ALH), the Dhruv, annually and some 200 of these are flying; however, the requirement is huge. Other than the Army, the IAF and the Navy also use the ALH.

In September 2017, two senior Army officers had a narrow escape when an Army Aviation helicopter carrying them crash-landed in Eastern Ladakh. The copter crashed at location close to the Line of Actual control (LAC), the de facto boundary with China.

Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps Lt Gen SK Upadhyay and the Division Commander of the Karu-based 3 Infantry Division Maj Gen Savneet Singh were on board the copter.

The crash occurred near the area called ‘Hot springs’. India is making a new road between ‘Hot springs’ and Marsimkla. The location was north of the Pangong Tso (lake).