Despite the airstrip in Sudan's Wadi Seidna having no navigational approach, aids or fuel, and landing lights (that are required to guide an aircraft landing at night), the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Garud Commandos carried out a daring, overnight operation to air-lift stranded Indians.
On the night of April 27, 28, 2023, the IAF C-130J aircraft rescued 121 personnel from a small airstrip at Wadi Seidna, which is about 40 km North of Khartoum, Sudan, the IAF said in a statement.
Knowing that the airstrip had no facilities to facilitate the rescue mission, the aircrew used their Electro-Optical/Infra-Red sensors to ensure that the runway was free from any obstructions and that no inimical forces were in the vicinity.
Pilots used night vision goggles to land at the airstrip
Having made sure of the same, the aircrew carried out a tactical approach on Night Vision Goggles, on a practically dark night.
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 NVGs.
Among the passengers was a pregnant woman, besides those who had no means to reach Port Sudan, the IAF said in a statement.
The convoy was led by the Indian Defence Attache, who was in continuous touch with IAF authorities all along, till they reached the airstrip at Wadi Seidna.
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.
Details on Operation Kaveri
Meanwhile, under 'Operation Kaveri' on Friday, the Indian Air Force C-130J flight, 12th batch, took off from conflict-torn Sudan with 135 passengers on-board for Jeddah.
On Friday, Mos MEA V Muraleedharan informed that so far, 2,100 Indians have arrived in Jeddah, as part of 'Operation Kaveri'.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said INS Sumedha, which is stationed at Port Sudan, had also left the crisis-hit country with 300 passengers onboard, for Jeddah.
This is the 13th batch of INS Sumedha with evacuated Indians, heading to Jeddah.
On the same day, the Indian Air Force C-130J evacuated the 10th and 11th batches of 135 passengers from Port Sudan to Jeddah after the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to extend their ceasefire amid ongoing violence in the capital Khartoum and the western Darfur region.
This comes after the army said it would extend the ceasefire "for an additional 72 hours" following mediation efforts by Saudi Arabia and the United States in the final hours of the repeatedly broken three-day truce, due to end at midnight (22:00 GMT) on Thursday.
The RSF also said it approved the extended truce, adding that the proposal came from two diplomatic groupings that include the US, Saudi Arabia, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
About the Sudan violence
Sudan is experiencing bloodshed as a result of clashes between the army and paramilitary forces. Even though there is a 72-hour ceasefire, there have been allegations of violence.
Fighting has erupted between soldiers loyal to Sudanese army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, paramilitary Rapid Support Soldiers (RSF) commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.
Committed to ensuring that no Indian national is left behind in Sudan, India has deployed its military planes and warships in the war-torn country.