Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Su-30MKI fighter jet crashes in western India

Air Force News — By RIA Novosti on December 1, 2009 at 6:30 am

An Indian Su-30MKI fighter jet crashed on Monday near Jaisalmer in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, but both pilots survived, an Air Force spokesman said.

"The aircraft crashed during an ongoing exercise. Both pilots ejected safely and were not injured," the official said.

The incident was the second since the Russian-made Su-30MKI was put into service with the Indian Air Force in 2002, and occurred five days after Indian President Pratibha Patil flew in a two-seat Su-30MKI jet for 30 minutes.

The first Su-30MKI crashed in April during a routine training flight near a village 170 kilometers (105 miles) from Jaisalmer, killing one of its two pilots.

Russia sent in May a group of 20 experts to examine the wreckage of the plane and help the Indian Air Force with the investigation, but the results of the probe have not been disclosed.

The Indian Air Force originally ordered 50 SU-30MKI aircraft from Russia in 1996-98 and an additional 40 planes in 2007. Hindustani Aeronautics (HAL) was also contracted to build 140 aircraft in India between 2003 and 2017 under a licensed production agreement.

The Indian military said after the April accident it was satisfied with the performance of Russian Su-30MKI fighters, despite the crash, and planned to double the number in service with theair force to at least 230 by 2015.

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