Pilot killed in first IAF Sukhoi crash, checks ordered on fleet
An Indian Air Force pilot was killed and another injured in the first crash of an Su-30 MKI near Pokharan today, prompting the IAF to temporarily ground its most advanced fighter.
The twin-seater warjet from the Pune-based
30 Squadron crashed while returning from a routine training exercise over the Pokharan firing ranges. The IAF has ordered a court of inquiry but preliminary reports suggested the alarming possibility of a structural fault leading to the crash.
Sources said the fighter was part of a four-aircraft formation, flying at over 20,000 feet when it started "oscillating violently" and went into an "uncontrollable spin", suggesting that it had suffered some sort of structural damage.
Both pilots, Wing Commanders S V Munje and P S Nara, ejected but Nara was found
dead on the ground, apparently hit by debris while ejecting.
Nara was attached to the Directorate of Air Staff Inspection (DASI) and was flying as an inspector. Sources said the squadron was undergoing its annual DASI inspection that rates its performance. Following the crash, the other fighters were temporarily grounded as a precautionary measure. The IAF will carry out detailed inspection of all fighters to rule out any fault.
India currently has three squadrons of the Su-30 MKI — two at Pune and one at Bareilly — while two more are in the process of being raised. The MKI variant of the Su-30 was inducted in 2002 and the fighters have had an impeccable safety record.