One Indian Air Force pilot was killed and another seriously injured in the first-ever Su-30 MKI fighter jet crash on Thursday near Jaisalmer in Rajasathan.
The deceased pilot has been identified as Wing Commander P S Nara and the injured as Wing Commander S V Munje, IAF officials said in New Delhi. A court of inquiry has been ordered into the mishap.
According to Defence PRO Lt Col N N Joshi, the crash took place around 10.20 hours about 70 km southeast of Jaisalmer near Rajmathai-Hariyasar village in Rajasthan when the two pilots flew out the aircraft on a routine sortie.
Within a few minutes of taking off, the pilots reported trouble in the aircraft and both ejected out of the cockpit, after directing the aircraft on to a vacant agricultural land. But both pilots suffered serious injuries and were rushed by an IAF rescue team to a nearby military hospital, sources said.
While Wg Cdr Nara succumbed to injuries, the condition of Wg Cdr Munje is said to be stable. The frontline fighter aircraft and the pilots, sources said, belonged to one of the Sukhoi squadrons based in Lohegaon near Pune.
The aircraft from the squadron had come here to participate in regular flying exercises that they are subjected to annually, sources said.
India had first inducted Su-30MKIs into IAF service in 2002 and currently operates 60 of these air superiority 4.5 generation fighters in three of its 33.5 squadrons.
While 20 Squadron 'Lightnings' and 30 Squadron 'Rhinos' are based in Pune, the 24 Squadron 'Hawks' are located in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. Being the most potent aircraft in the IAF's inventory, the Su-30MKI has been fielded by the IAF in most of its bilateral and multi-lateral air exercises with foreign air forces.
The aircraft had made a mark and had gained a reputation for itself while participating in the prestigious 'Red Flag' air exercise of the NATO in Nellis air base of the US Air Force in the later part of 2008.
India has placed a fresh order for 40 more Sukhois with Russia in the wake of the then IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi writing to the government in 2006 on the depleting strength of the IAF.