December 03, 2012
An Indian air force Jaguar fighter crashed in the northeastern state of Sikkim last week, a defense official says.
The accident occurred at 1:15 p.m. local time Nov. 30 shortly after the aircraft took off on a routine sortie from Hashimara air base in West Bengal. It crashed into a forest near the Mangan area of Sikkim, defense official Col. Gurung says.
Both pilots ejected from the aircraft before the crash, he said. One of them, Flight Lt. Yogesh Yadav, was rescued by villagers near the crash site. He sustained critical injuries and was rushed to a local hospital, Gurung says.
The fate of the other pilot was “unknown,” he adds.
The accident’s cause remains unclear, and the defense ministry has ordered an investigation.
The crash comes as India’s air force is upgrading its roughly 100 Jaguars from their initial Darin I version under a 2008 contract with state-run defense manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
India successfully carried out the first flight of its upgraded Jaguar, the Darin III, on Nov. 28 after final certification and clearance.
India also plans to buy 270 F-125IN turbofan engines from Honeywell to improve the Jaguar fleet.