IAF Jets Sukhoi-Mirage Mid-Air Crash Complex, Probe Report Awaited

| Updated: January 29, 2023 11:34 am

A Court of Inquiry has been set up to ascertain the cause of the crash of the two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets, a Sukhoi 30 and a Mirage 2000, which killed an experienced pilot Saturday.

Experts, including former IAF veterans, told The Indian Express, that given the level of “complexity” in such advanced training missions and the skill-level of the pilots involved, it was hard to hazard a guess before the detailed inquiry is complete.

An Indian Air Force pilot was killed after two fighter jets, a Sukhoi Su-30 and a Mirage- 2000 crashed in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday. While the two Su-30 pilots received minor injuries, the Mirage pilot died in the crash after being fatally injured. The wreckage of the crashed aircraft was discovered in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, and Morena, Madhya Pradesh.

Preliminary analysis of crash reports, they said, point to the possibility of a mid-air collision given the two aircraft taking off from the same air base, crashing around the same time and their debris being found in the same area.

“We do not know at what stage (the malfunction behind the crash) happened. Did they establish contact and then the collision happened or was it from the word go? These aspects will come to light only after inquiry,” said an IAF veteran who is well-versed with combat training.

At the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment, he said, “highly advanced” combat manoeuvres are developed and taught. “The more complex the combat environment and manoeuvres, the higher the risk. It is not a benign situation. Having said that, such accidents are not usual. A lot of precautions, preparations and training takes place before such a complex training mission is undertaken,” the officer added. 

According to aviation historian Anchit Gupta, mid-air collisions though rare, have, historically, taken place during aerobatics, formation or close combat flying when the aircraft are required to fly very close to each other.

Data compiled by Gupta shows that 62 aircraft have been lost to mid-air collisions in the Indian military in the last seven decades. These include 11 MiG-21s. For the amount of flying IAF does, this is an exceptionally good safety record, he noted.

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