IANS is reporting that a Sukhoi Su-30MKI the frontline air superiority fighter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed near Pune around 13:15 local (07:45Z) today. Both the pilots bailed out to safety, an officer said.
The fighter belongs to a squadron of the Su-30MKI which is based at the Lohegaon Air Force Base to protect amongst others, the economic capital of India, Mumbai. The part of the base also serves as the civil airport serving the city of Pune.
Base commander, Air Commodore V. R. Chaudhry told reporters
‘Today at around 1.15 p.m. a Sukhoi fighter jet, which took off from the Lohegaon Air Force Base for a sortie, presumably developed a technical snag and crashed,’
‘Two officers – Wing Commander Suhail, who was the pilot and Flight Lieutenant Nautiyal, who was the weapons system operator – ejected out of the aircraft after manoeuvring it over barren land,’
‘While the preliminary circumstantial reason could be a technical snag, we are investigating the matter. Both the officers were highly competent. They showed great presence of mind and courage by steering the aircraft towards a safe location and thus avoiding any civilian damage,’
Both the officers have been taken to the Command Hospital in Pune.
The aircraft crashed at Wade-Bholai village, 20 kms from here. The search for the aircraft’s black box is on.
This is the third crash of a Sukhoi Su-30 since its induction in 1997.