The Indian Air Force’s Group Captain Varun Singh, the lone survivor of the horrific military chopper crash that killed Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat along with his wife and 11 others, was awarded the Shaurya Chakra this year on Independence Day for saving his LCA Tejas fighter aircraft during an aerial emergency in 2020. Sources say Singh is in a critical situation, he has more burns on his body than General Bipin Rawat. He is under constant medical observation.
On October 12, 2020, Singh was flying a system check sortie in the LCA, away from the parent base, after major rectification of its Flight Control System (FCS) and pressurisation system (life support environment control system). His citation read: “During the sortie, the cockpit pressurisation failed at high altitude. He correctly identified the failure and initiated a descent to lower altitude for landing. While descending, the Flight Control System failed and led to total loss of control of the aircraft. This was an unprecedented catastrophic failure that had never occurred. There was a rapid loss of altitude while in usual altitude, with the aircraft pitching up and down viciously going to the extremities of G limits. Despite being in extreme physical and mental stress in an extreme life-threatening situation, he maintained exemplary composure and regained control of the aircraft, thereby exhibiting exceptional flying skill.”
CDS Rawat and his wife Madhulika were among a crew of 14 aboard the Mi-17V5 helicopter of the Indian Air Force that crashed on December 8 near Coonoor en route to Wellington in Tamil Nadu. Rawat was the first Chief of Defence Staff of India, the military chief for all three services – Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
The others who succumbed to severe burns after the crash were Brigadier LS Lidder, Lieutenant Colonel Harjinder Singh, NK Gursewak Singh, NK Jitendra Kumar, L/NK Vivek Kumar, L/NK B Sai Teja and Hav Satpal.