A Jaguar fighter jet of the Indian Air Force crashed today in Kushinagar, about 322 kilometers from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh.
The pilot, Wing Commander Rohit Katoch managed to eject safely from the plane.
“This morning, a Jaguar aircraft crashed while on a routine mission from Gorakhpur. The pilot ejected safely. A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the accident,” the Indian Air Force said a statement.
Video filmed at the scene of the crash shows flaming debris and a large crowd of eyewitnesses.
Authorities are investigating the accident.
A senior police officer in Kushinagar told news agency ANI that the plane crashed near a densely populated area.
Initial investigations indicate that the deep penetration strike fighter aircraft, had developed some technical problems soon after it took off from Gorakhpur.
The plane crashed when the pilot was trying to return to Gorakhpur air base, said sources.
Wing Commander Katoch is an ace pilot of the Jaguar fighter team and is the Flight Commander of the 27 Squadron of Jaguars based out of Gorakhpur. The Flight Commander of a squadron is the second-in-Command or the second senior-most officer in the unit.
The IAF has a fleet of around 100 Jaguar fighter planes, which were imported from Europe in the late 1970s. The force has plans of further upgrading the fighter planes, which have a long range strike capability.
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IAF Jaguars are scheduled to be upgraded with AESA Radar and new high thrust engines from Honeywell. Jaguars entered Indian AirForce in 1981. IAF plans to keep Jaguars operational by 2030 and beyond.