Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 and a Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jets crashed while engaged in a high-speed simulated combat mission out of Gwalior Air Force Station. Both pilots of the Su-30 ejected safely. The pilot of the Mirage 2000 has reportedly suffered fatal injuries.
Wg Cdr Hanumanth Rao Sarathi, the Mirage 2000 pilot killed in today’s tragic mid-air collision crash. A fine aviator, he leaves behind his wife & 2 children. Hailing from Belagavi, Karnataka, his father was in the Army, his brother is also in the IAF.
Both the fighter jets had taken off from the Gwalior Air Force base which has squadrons of both the Russian-designed Sukhoi and the French Mirage 2000.
Videos from the scene, shot by locals in Morena, showed smoldering debris of the aircraft strewn on the ground.
The Air Force has launched a probe to examine if a mid-air collision led to the crash, defense sources told NDTV.
“IAF court of inquiry has been launched to establish whether there was a mid-air collision or not. The Su-30 had two pilots while Mirage 2000 had one pilot during the crash. Initial reports suggest two pilots are safe while an IAF chopper reaching the location of the third pilot soon,” sources said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been briefed by the Indian Air Force chief on the crash of two aircraft, the news agency PTI reported.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in a tweet, “The news of the crash of Sukhoi-30 and Mirage-2000 aircraft of the Air Force near Kolaras in Morena is very sad. I have instructed the local administration to cooperate with the Air Force in quick rescue and relief work. I pray to God that the pilots of the planes are safe.”
The crash is the latest in a string of aviation accidents involving India’s military air fleet. 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.
Chief of defense staff General Bipin Rawat, was among 13 people killed when his Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter crashed while transporting him to an air force base in December 2021.