When Air Marshal Harish Masand, retired from the Indian Air Force (IAF), heard about the Sukhoi-30 MKI that crashed 70 kilometers southeast of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, he was quite surprised.
“Really?” he asks. “These modern aircraft don’t just crash like that. Whether it is a Mirage 2000 or a MiG-29 and certainly a Sukhoi-30, they don’t have anything going wrong with them,” says the Air Marshal, who was also the Air-Officer-Commanding when Sukhoi squadrons began induction in the IAF. This is the first time an IAF Sukhoi-30 MKI has crashed.The IAF operates three squadrons (approximately 55 aircraft) of the jet, the first of which were inducted in 1997.
“It really depends on what the aircraft was doing at the time. Was it on a practice firing or a bombing run in Pokhran?” he asks. The IAF says the aircraft had taken off from Lohegaon in Pune and was on a routine training mission.
The IAF also says the aircraft crashed around 10:30 a.m after both pilots had bailed out of the aircraft. Wing Commander SV Munje survived the crash but Wing Commander PS Nara succumbed to his injuries.
“The sequence for ejection is canopy, rear pilot and then front pilot. This is to make sure the way is clear of the canopy when the two pilots eject. If an ejection seat malfunctioned, it could have caused trouble. If the aircraft was at a low altitude or if it wasn’t flying straight or was out of control, it could also have caused trouble,” says the Air Marshal.
The IAF says no damage to any civil property or life on ground was reported and a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the accident.