Indian Air Force confirms missing Sukhoi pilots are dead

Squadron Leader D Pankaj and Flight Lt S Achudev could not initiate ejection before the crash that occurred 60 kms from Tezpur Airbase on May 23, the IAF said.

Published: 31st May 2017 09:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st June 2017 01:13 AM   |  A+A-

Indian Air Force Sukhoi. (Image for representational purpose|EPS)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Eight days after an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-30 crashed in Arunachal Pradesh, defence authorities on Wednesday announced the death of the two pilots who were on board.

“Squadron Leader D Pankaj and Flight Lieutenant S Achudev, the pilots of the Su-30 aircraft, sustained fatal injuries when the aircraft crashed approximately 60 km from Tezpur Airbase on May 23,” defence spokesman Lt Col Sambit Ghosh told The New Indian Express.

He said analysis of the flight data recorder of the aircraft and certain other articles recovered from the crash site revealed that the pilots could not initiate ejection before the crash. The wreckage of the aircraft was located on May 26.

The aircraft took off at around 10:30 am on May 23 and had gone off the radar and lost radio contact around 11:10 am when it was around 60 km from Tezpur. It was on a routine training mission as part of a two-aircraft formation.

“The aircraft was declared overdue and search and rescue operations were launched to locate it and the pilots. Help from civil administration and military authorities was also sought to locate it. Aerial search was commenced based on the last known position of the Su-30 MKI. Incessant rain, dense clouds and difficult terrain hampered the search operations in air and on the ground,” Ghosh said.

A court of inquiry has already been ordered to investigate the cause of the accident, he added.

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