Millennium Post

Missing Su-30 wreckage found, fate of crew not known

The wreckage of the IAF's Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet, which went missing with two pilots on board, was found today in a dense forest near Tezpur in Assam after a three-day search operation, but the fate of the crew is not known.

The Indian Air Force ordered a court of inquiry into the crash, hours after the debris of the fighter plane was sighted in an area 60 km from Tezpur airbase with which it lost radar and radio contact on Tuesday.

The Su-30 MKI jet had gone missing shortly after taking off from Tezpur Air Force Station on a routine training sortie.

"A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee said in Delhi.
The identity of the missing pilots has not been disclosed and the worst is feared.

IAF officials said the wreckage was spotted from the air and there will be clarity once the teams on the ground reach the crash site.

Banerjee said the teams will launch a search for pilots and the flight data recorder.

"The search parties of the Army are also trekking their way to the crash site. However, their progress is getting hampered due to inclement weather, thick foliage and steep terrain," he said.
Lt. Col. Sombit Ghosh, spokesperson of the Army's Tezpur-based IV Corps, said that the wreckage of the fighter jet was found close to the last known position of the aircraft, which was 60 km north-west of Tezpur in Sonitpur district.

"The weather has been inclement and the area has dense foliage. Therefore, search parties are taking time to reach the spot," he said.

The plane was part of a two-aircraft formation when it went missing.

The first batch of the Russia-made fighter jet was inducted by the IAF in the late 1990s. Since their induction, seven crashes have taken place.

A frontline fighter jet, SU-30 MKI aircraft were deployed in the Tezpur airbase on June 15, 2009, for guarding the Sino- India frontier in Arunachal Pradesh.
At present, two squadrons comprising around 36 aircraft are deployed at Tezpur.
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