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MiG-29K crash: Parts of aircraft located; one pilot still untraceable

NEW DELHI (PTI): Search and rescue teams of the Indian Navy located the turbo charger, fuel tank and some other parts of the MiG-29K fighter aircraft that had crashed into the Arabian Sea, but one of the two pilots remained untraceable, officials said on Sunday.

The Indian Navy has deployed nine warships, 14 aircraft and a number of fast interceptor craft as part of the search and rescue mission to trade the missing pilot, they said.

The MiG-29K jet crashed into the Arabian sea on Thursday evening after taking off from aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. While one pilot was rescued, the second one, identified as Commander Nishant Singh, has been still missing.

After the incident, the Navy launched an extensive search and rescue operation to locate the missing pilot.

"Some debris of the aircraft including landing gear, turbo charger, fuel tank engine and wing engine cowling have been located," Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said.

Apart from warships and aircraft of the Navy, the coastal police are on the lookout for the missing pilot, he said, adding nearby fishing villages have also been sensitised about the incident.

A high-level inquiry has already been ordered to investigate the incident.

It was the third accident involving the MiG-29K aircraft in the last one year.

A MiG-29K twin-seat fighter aircraft had crashed in South Goa district on November 16, 2019 and both the pilots had ejected safely. Another MiG-29K crashed into the Arabian Sea off the Goa coast on February 23 this year after taking off from INS Hansa, a prominent naval air station at Vasco in Goa. The pilot of the aircraft had managed to eject safely.

The MiG-29K is an all-weather carrier-based multi-role fighter aircraft developed by Russian aerospace company Mikoyan (MiG). The Indian Navy had procured a fleet of 45 MiG-29Ks from Russia at a cost of around US$ 2 billion to operate from INS Vikramaditya.

INS Vikramaditya was part of the second phase of the Malabar exercise involving navies of India, the US, Australia and Japan.

The MiG-29K fleet onboard the aircraft carrier was also involved in the mega naval drill that took place from November 17 to 20.

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