Place of birth : Varanasi DIst (UP)

Last Rank : Sergeant

Unit : 154 HU AF

Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force

Awards : Mention-in-Despatches

Martyrdom : February 27, 2019

Sergeant Vishal Kumar Pandey

Sergeant Vishal Kumar Pandey hailed from Kashipur village in Varanasi district in Uttar Pradesh and was born in the year 1985. Son of Shri Vijay Shankar Pandey and Smt Vimla Pandey, Sgt Vishal Kumar Pandey was second among five siblings and had two brothers Vikas Pandey and Akash Pandey, and two sisters as his siblings. After completing his initial education, he joined the Indian Air Force in the year 2005 at the age of 20 years. He was inducted into the IAF as a technical tradesman and later got trained as a 'Flight Engineer' and became part of an aircrew. 


After serving for a few years Sgt Vishal Kumar Pandey got married to Ms Madhavi and the couple was blessed with a son Vishu, and a daughter Dhara. During 2019, Cpl Vishal Kumar Pandey was posted to the 154 Helicopter Unit based at the Air Force base in Srinagar. His unit was operating an MI-17 transport helicopter, extensively used for air transport and logistics operations.


Mi-17 Air Mission: 27 Feb 2019

During Feb 2019, Sgt Vishal Kumar Pandey was serving with 154 HU based at Srinagar. 154 HU was raised in the year 2012 at Srinagar with the motto of "Apatsu Mitram" meaning "A friend in time of need". The unit was operating the Mi-17 V-5 helicopter, the most advanced variant of the Mi-17 family operated by the IAF, and was fitted with a full glass cockpit, advanced avionics, weather radar, and powerful Klimov VK2500 engines delivering 2,700 hp each. The Mi-17 V-5 could also be flown at night as its cockpit was Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible. The twin-engine helicopter was capable of single-engine flight and landing. It could achieve a top speed of 250 kmph and a cruise speed of 220-230 kmph. Mi-17 V-5s could also undertake armed missions for which they could be fitted with four pylons to carry suspended pods with 23mm cannons and 250 rounds each, up to 80 S-8 80mm unguided aerial rockets and bombs. Sgt Vishal Kumar Pandey's unit was responsible for undertaking air transport and logistics operations in support of the Army as well as IAF operations in J & K.

On 27 Feb 2019, the unit was tasked with one more such mission in support of ongoing joint operations of Army and IAF in J&K. Sgt Vishal Kumar Pandey along with other aircrew including Sgt Vikrant Sahrawat, Cpl Deepak Pandey and Cpl Pankaj Kumar were detailed for an air support mission being flown by Wg Cdr Sidharth Vashisht as captain and Sqn Ldr Ninad Mandavgane as co-pilot.  The crew after having gone through their preparatory checks got ready to take off as per the operational plan on 27 Feb 2019.  The Mi-17 V-5 aircraft (ZP-5220) took off as planned at 1000 hrs but soon after flying for nearly 10 minutes crashed in an open field near Garend Kalaan village in Budgam district about 10 km from the Srinagar International Airport. The helicopter broke into pieces and caught fire which made it impossible to save the crew members. All six valiant air warriors could not survive and laid down their lives in the service of the nation. Subsequent investigation revealed that the ill-fated Mi-17 V-5 was hit by the SPYDER ("Surface-to-air Python and Derby"), the IAF's short and medium-range mobile air defence system, in an operationally charged environment by mistake. Sgt Vishal Kumar Pandey was a valiant and competent air warrior, who displayed grit, commitment, and devotion to duty during every operational mission assigned to him. Sgt Vishal Kumar Pandey was awarded 'Mention-in-Despatches" (Posthumously) for his commendable courage, and supreme sacrifice.


Sgt Vishal Kumar Pandey is survived by his father Shri Vijay Shankar Pandey, mother Smt Vimla Pandey, wife Smt Madhavi Pandey, Son Vishu, and daughter Dhara.

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