Chopper Crash: India owns a fairly large fleet of Mi-17V-5 helicopters that are often used to ferry VIPs

New Delhi: The Mi-17V-5 helicopters are extremely reliable and are the workhorses of the Air Force, several former army officers told NDTV as a chopper with Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, his wife and several staff members on board crashed in Tamil Nadu. General Rawat and his wife were among the 13 people who died in the crash, which took place in Coonoor, a spot between Coimbatore and Sulur.

The crash has perplexed the experts, who said the flight from Sulur to Wellington did not involve complications.

Thirteen people of the 14 people on board are dead and one has been rescued alive.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered an inquiry into the crash.

The Mi-17V-5 is the latest twin-engine iteration of the Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter and is used regularly for high-altitude operations. One of the most advanced military transports that can be used in any topography and weather, it is one of the most powerful choppers used by Indian defence forces.

India owns a fairly large fleet of these helicopters that were purchased and inducted between 2008 and 2018.

Most experts described it as a "very reliable, safe, stable, and large" helicopter that is also used to ferry VIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.

According to information available on the website of Rosoboronexport -- the Russian arms supplier -- the chopper is designed to "carry personnel, cargo and equipment inside the cargo cabin or on an external sling, drop tactical air assault forces and reconnaissance and sabotage groups, destroy ground targets and carry the wounded".

"Its armament system includes unguided rockets (up to 80 S-8 80mm unguided aerial rockets), cannons (suspended pods with 23mm cannons and 250 rounds each) and small arms," the website says.