One pilot has died after two Indian Air Force fighter jets crashed in a mid-air collision in central India. The crash involved a Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30, carrying two pilots, and a Mirage 2000, operated by a third.
The SU-30MKI is a twin-seater combat jet, while the Mirage 2000, manufactured by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation, is a single-seater aircraft.
The planes were on a routine “operational flying training mission” when the incident happened, the air force said in a statement. Both aircraft had taken off from the Gwalior air base in Madhya and local media reports said the wreckage was found in Bharatpur in Rajasthan and Morena in neighboring Madhya Pradesh.
“The aircraft was on a routine operational flying training mission. One of the three pilots involved sustained fatal injuries. An inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of the accident,” the air force said in a statement.
Police officer Dharmender Gaur, at one scene where the wreckage was discovered, told AFP news agency that a pilot had been found injured but alive in the forests of Padargarh. “We have located the wreckage of one of the planes,” the officer said. “The other plane has likely fallen further away from the site, and we have sent teams to locate it.”
The crash resulted in the death of a wing commander, Hanumanth Rao Sarathi while two other pilots ejected safely.
The black box of the Mirage 2000 and a part of the flight data recorder of the Sukhoi-30MKI jet, have been found in the wreckage, on Sunday.
Five army soldiers were killed last October when their helicopter crashed in Arunachal Pradesh state, near the country’s militarized and the disputed border with China. It was the second military chopper crash in the northeastern state that month, coming weeks after a Cheetah helicopter came down near the town of Tawang, killing its pilot.