Kutch: An Indian Air Force Jaguar fighter jet on Tuesday crashed soon after it took off from the Jamnagar air base in Gujarat, killing the pilot, official sources said.
According to locals, the plane’s debris was strewn far and wide on the outskirts of the village. They said the aircraft was on a routine training mission and crashed around 10.30 am. The pilot, Air Commodore Sanjay Chauhan, died in the crash, the sources said.
The IAF said the Jaguar fighter aircraft was on a routine training mission. The officer was the Air Officer Commanding of the IAF Jamnagar base. The base has a role in maritime security.
The incident comes months after an IAF helicopter crashed in Assam’s Majuli island, killing two pilots — Wing Commander J James and Wing Commander D Vats.
A Court of Inquiry into the incident has been ordered by the air headquarters to investigate the cause of the accident, the sources said. “The plane, which was on a routine sortie, crashed near Bareja village,” said an official in Gujarat.
The Jaguar is a twin-engine, ground attack aircraft which can penetrate deep behind enemy lines on bombing runs. It has a maximum speed of 1,350 kmph or 1.3 times the speed of sound. The aircraft is ageing since it was inducted into the Indian Air Force in 1979 — almost four decades ago.
Out of 145 Jaguars that the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) had built for the IAF, only 119 are currently flying, comprising six IAF squadrons of about 20 fighters each.
This is the second crash of an IAF aircraft in the past two months. An Mi-17 chopper crashed in Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath in April, injuring six. An IAF chopper also crash landed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Natha Top on May 23. However, all passengers and the crew were safe.
The IAF has been seeking urgent upgrade of its ageing Jaguar fleet and is said to be finalising a$1.5 billion deal for the project.