Indian Air Force’s daring operation to rescue 121 people from Sudan

The small airstrip had a degraded surface with no navigational aid and landing lights, say IAF officials


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IAF personnel rescue people at Wadi Sayyidna, Sudan. — PTI
IAF personnel rescue people at Wadi Sayyidna, Sudan. — PTI

Published: Sat 29 Apr 2023, 2:45 PM

Last updated: Sat 29 Apr 2023, 2:49 PM

In a daring operation, a C-130J heavy-lift aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) rescued 121 people from a small airstrip at Wadi Sayyidna, which is about 40km north of the violence-hit Sudanese capital city of Khartoum, officials said.

The rescue operation was carried out on the intervening night of April 27 and 28.

Those rescued in the operation included a pregnant woman and those who had no means to reach Port Sudan, the key transit point from where India is rescuing its citizens using military aircraft and naval ships, IAF officials said on Friday.

The airstrip had a degraded surface with no navigational aid or fuel, and most critically no landing lights which are required to guide an aircraft landing at night, said one of the officials.

The officials said the aircrew used their electro-optical and infrared sensors to ensure that the runway was free of any obstruction and there were no inimical forces in the vicinity.

“Having made sure of the same, the aircrew carried out a tactical approach using night vision goggles on a practically dark night,” said the official.

“Upon landing, the aircraft engines were kept running while eight IAF Garud Commandos secured the passengers and their luggage into the aircraft. As with the landing, the take off from the unlit runway was also carried out using night vision goggles,” he said.

“This approximately two-and-a-half hour operation between Wadi Sayyidna and Jeddah will go down in the annals of IAF history for its sheer audacity and flawless execution — akin to that carried out in Kabul,” the IAF official said.

The IAF had carried out similar operations to evacuate Indians from Kabul after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

India launched ‘Operation Kaveri’ earlier this week to bring back the stranded Indians from Sudan.

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