Two Indian Air Force fighter jets, a Sukhoi Su-30 and a Mirage 2000, collided during a training exercise this morning, resulting in the loss of one pilot, according to officials. One aircraft is thought to have fallen in Morena, Madhya Pradesh, while the other is believed to have crashed 100 kilometres away in Bharatpur, Rajasthan.
According to defence sources, the Sukhoi had two pilots, while the Mirage only had one. Both aircraft are utilised by the Indian Air Force on the frontlines. The 2 Sukhoi pilots were able to eject and were transported to the hospital by helicopter.
There are squadrons of both Russian-made Sukhoi and French-designed Mirage 2000 fighter jet at the Gwalior Air Force installation, from where both planes had taken off.
The IAF deeply regrets to inform that Wg Cdr Hanumanth Rao Sarathi suffered fatal injuries during the accident. All air warriors and the fraternity stand strongly with the bereaved family.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) January 28, 2023
Locals in Morena filmed the aftermath of the crash, showing smoking aircraft parts strewn over the ground.
According to NDTV’s reporting, defense sources have confirmed that the Air Force has begun an investigation to determine whether a midair collision contributed to the incident.
“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 is reaching the location of the third pilot soon,” sources said.
The Indian Air Force chief has briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the crash of two aircraft, the news agency PTI reported.
According to a tweet from Madhya Pradesh’s chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, “The Air Force’s Sukhoi-30 and Mirage-2000 planes crashed near Kolaras, Morena, and the news is incredibly tragic. I’ve ordered the municipal government to help the Air Force out with any urgent rescue or relief efforts. I hope and pray that the pilots of the planes make it home safely.”