NEW DELHI: A top IAF officer had a narrow escape on Friday as a French-built Mirage 2000 aircraft crashed in Madhya Pradesh on Friday.
The aircraft was piloted by the Commanding Officer of the fighter Squadron, and the sortie was part of celebrations to mark 25 years of the induction of Mirage 2000 into IAF.
Air Officer Personnel Air Marshal Anil Chopra and Wing Commander Ram Kumar took off from
Maharajpura airbase in Gwalior and later crashed in the ravines of Bhind, 32 km northeast of Gwalior, at around 12.10 pm.
“The engine of Mirage aircraft flamed out. Both the pilots tried to recover it, but did not succeed,” sources said. Both the pilots managed to eject to safety.
The IAF is already passing through a rough patch, in terms of fighter jet crashes, as nine of its aircraft, including the frontline jets known for their safety record like Sukhoi and the Soviet-vintage MiG series, crashed in 2011-12. The Mirage crash is a setback as the single engine aircraft had a proven safety record in the force with only five crashes in its 25 years of service.
“This is the first engine failure of Mirage in the last 25 years,” sources added.The IAF has recently inked a $2.4 billion deal with Dassault, the French manufacturers of the aircraft, to upgrade 51 fighter jets in its inventory.