IAF Sukhoi jet crashes near Pune, pilots safe (Third Lead)

December 13th, 2011 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Pune, Dec 13 (IANS) A frontline Sukhoi jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed near this Maharashtra town Tuesday but the two pilots bailed out to safety, an officer said.

“An Indian Air Force SU-30 crashed near a village in an open field approximately 20 km from (Pune’s) Lohegaon Air Force Station at 1307 hrs today,” a defence officer said.

“The aircraft, shortly after taking off from Lohegaon at 1246 hrs on a routine training sortie crashed near village probably due to a technical snag. Both the pilots, Wing Commander G.S. Sohal and Flight Lieutenant U. Nautiyal ejected safely and have been brought back to the base,” the officer added.

The search for the black box is on. The impact of the crash was such that the wreckage was strewn over a one km radius.

“While the preliminary circumstantial reason could be a technical snag, an inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the actual cause of the accident. Both the officers were highly competent. They showed great presence of mind and courage by steering the aircraft towards a safe location after manoeuvring it over open barren land, thus avoiding any civilian damage,” the officer said.

The land belonged to the Sadhu Vaswani Mission.

The aircraft burst into flames on crashing but seven tenders were pressed into service by various agencies - military and civil - to douse the blaze.

Around 25 policemen from the Lonikhand police post that was closest to the crash site rushed to the spot after being informed by the villagers about an aircraft hurtling towards the ground.

According to the police, the villagers saw the two pilots bailing out of the aircraft and landing in an area named Hargude Vasti, half km ahead of the crash site.

This is the third crash of a Sukhoi Su-30 since its induction in 1997.

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