Three paratroopers were injured during a slithering practice for the Army Day parade 2018 when the slithering boom broke and soldiers’ crash landed on the ground causing serious injuries to men and some of them may suffer disability of different nature. Whatever may be the outcome of the enquiry, but it raises serious questions on the reliability of the equipment and system being provided to the armed forces by domestic PSUs and OFB. There has been a constant debate between Armed Forces, DRDO, PSUs and OFB on reliability of equipment and its operational effectiveness. Why Armed Forces have not developed faith in some the domestic production line has certain trust deficit that manifest from incidents like these. So far 380 Mig aircrafts have crashed due to various reasons, highest anywhere in the world and these aircrafts are termed as flying coffins yet young air force pilots continue to fly these in spite of the fact that those failing to provide reliable systems have not been charged with man slaughter and compromising national security. Such attrition during peace time on trained manpower and equipment is unprecedented in the world. Ammunition and mine failure have taken many lives with no accountability. Infantry soldiers due to unreliability factor of INSAS weapon system prefer to go into operations with AK 47 because failure of weapon means certain death in operations.
The incident of boom breaking and soldiers crashing to the ground is a very serious incident and cannot be brushed aside. Imagine if the aircraft was on a mission behind enemy lines or in surgical strike. Firstly the operation would have failed, secondly, there was no way the casualties could have been winched up since the assembly had broken, thus these three men either would have been mutilated or the entire focus of operations would have changed from strike to rescue. This system automatically disqualifies itself for winching operations and casualty lifting. In operations the exposure time for an aircraft to unload a stick (10 men) for operations behind enemy lines should not be more than a min, thus on rope there would be four to five soldiers simultaneously slithering down and if the aircraft cannot fulfil these operational parameters then it is unsuitable for combat operations and can only be used as air taxi and that disqualify itself for combat operations. The equipment failure in peacetime lays down the benchmark for operations in war and thus culpability for negligence and repeated failure is equal to treason.
With such conditions can men going for special mission operations trust such machines? I doubt. Therefore, it is not a question of minor incident; it is a question of trust of the men in the machines with which they risk their lives. DRDO, PSUs and OFB has to do something better to win the trust of the armed forces. Repeated failure and no accountability for failure is letting the culprit get away with the murder is bad for the national security. Ajey lele has written that, “Armed forces should not be obliged to ensure success of Make In India. They are responsible for safeguarding the country and must be allowed to decide on the weaponry and equipment they need.” Substandard system are a threat to national security and let there be no doubt that those who compromise or weaken the combat potential of the armed forces are enemy within.