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MiG-23 goes down in Hashimara, pilots safe


File photo of Indian Air Force's MiG-23 aircraft

SILIGURI (BNS): The Indian Air Force (IAF) lost a second fighter jet in a week when one of its MiG-23 trainer aircraft crashed near Hashimara airbase in Eastern India. Just six days ago, a MiG-21 had fallen at Jhabua, also in the East. But the pilots of the two aircraft had a lucky escape as they managed to eject to safety.

In Monday’s accident, the two pilots involved have been identified as Wing Commander Sisodia and Flying Lieutenant Kartik.

They had taken off in a trainer version of MiG-23 from Hashimara at around 12:30 pm. Barely, a few minutes into the sortie, they made a distress signal to ground controllers and informed about their plan to eject.

They landed safely within the local flying zone of Hashimara airbase and the aircraft landed in a vacant piece of land causing no damage to property or life on the ground. A team of air investigators has already reached the accident site as under rules, a court of inquiry gets immediately underway after the mishap.

The pilots are not grievously injured, claimed an IAF spokesperson. The IAF maintained that despite recent two crashes, its flight safety record was intact. This was the seventh crash this year. A woman cadet learning flying officer died in one of the crashes.

The MiG-23 that went down in Hashimara was part of a MiG-27 squadron located at the base. It was being used as a trainer. The IAF official said that Wing Commander Sisodia had taken out a young Flight Lieutenant for a training routine. The IAF said it was too early to point any possible cause of accident. The fuselage is being collected and pilots would give a detailed brief on the flight performance.

The MiG-23 is an old aircraft which is being phased out by IAF. The sole MiG-23 squadron of IAF is based in Halwara in north India. The aircraft is a third generation variety bought from erstwhile Soviet Union more than three decades ago. The IAF has flown various versions of MiG-23s over the last several years. A number of MiG-23 squadrons have been number plated.

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