A MiG-29K fighter jet belonging to the Indian Navy crashed shortly after it took off on a routine training mission from Goa’s Dabolim. The pilots – Captain M Sheokhand and Lieutenant Commander Deepak Yadav – managed to eject safely and have both been recovered. According to a statement by the Navy, the plane, a trainer version of the fighter, was hit by a flock of birds and the collision led to a fire in the right engine and the left engine failing.
“At about 11.45 am this morning, a MiG twin-seater aircraft on a routine training sortie encountered a flock of birds after take off from INS Hansa air base at Dabolim, Goa. The pilot observed the left engine had flamed out and the right engine had caught fire,” the statement said.
The pilots showed commendable presence of mind, the statement added, in steering the damaged jet away from populated areas; the plane crashed in open land and neither casualties nor damage was reported.
“Attempts to recover the aircraft were unsuccessful due to damage and low height. The pilot with his presence of mind pointed the aircraft away from populated areas and both pilots ejected safely. An inquiry has been instituted by the Navy. There is no loss of life or damage to property on ground,” the Navy said.
“It is a matter of great satisfaction that they managed to eject in time and both of them are safe. I pray for their good health and well-being,” Defence Minister Rajanth Singh tweeted after speaking to both pilots..
The naval fighter jet’s external fuel tank was inadvertently jettisoned during take off and caused a fire on the runway. Fighter jets often carry fuel tanks that can be detached as per mission requirements.