Mirage and Sukhoi fighter jets on a training mission crash, killing the Wing Commander

On Saturday morning, two fighter jets from the Indian Air Force that had taken off from the Gwalior Air Base crashed in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, and Morena, Madhya Pradesh. One pilot was killed in each crash.

Sources say it’s possible that the Mirage 2000 and the Sukhoi 30 (Su-30 MKI) crashed into each other in the air since the two planes went down at the same time and were not far from each other. However, there is no official confirmation of this. A Court of Inquiry will find out the exact reason, the IAF said.

Wing Commander Hanumanth Rao Sarathi was the name of the pilot who died. He was in the Mirage 2000 plane that crashed at Morena. The two pilots of the Su-30 MKI that went down in Bharatpur were able to get out of the plane safely.

“Two fighter planes from the Indian Air Force were in an accident this morning near Gwalior. The planes were on a normal mission to train for operational flying, the IAF said in a statement. “One of the three pilots was hurt so badly that he died.”

An IAF officer told The Deccan Era that the investigation would find out what caused the accident and if the two planes collided in the air, and why they did. “Many things could cause these kinds of accidents, like a bird hitting the plane or one plane breaking down or hitting the other. “The best way to find out what happened is to wait for the Court of Inquiry report,” the officer said.

According to IAF sources, the pilots were from the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE) in Gwalior. They were flying the mission as part of the fighter combat leader course, in which IAF pilots from all branches undergo rigorous and complex aerial combat training.

Since it opened in 1971, the TACDE has been the best place for the IAF’s “Top Guns” to learn how to fight in the air.

The parts of a plane that crashed were found in the Bharatpur district. (PTI)

Sources say that Wing Commander Sarathi, who was 36 years old, was a member of the TACDE’s directing staff while the Sukhoi pilots were taking the fighter combat leader course. Part of the course was the training mission.

Ankit Asthana, who is in charge of the Morena district, told PTI that parts of both planes fell in the Pahargarh area of the district and in the Bharatpur area, which borders Madhya Pradesh.

Eyewitnesses were also quoted in the PTI report as saying that they heard a loud noise and saw fireballs fall to the ground, followed by two people in uniform parachuting into a nearby bushy area. Eyewitnesses said that some people helped get the two men out, and then an IAF helicopter took them to Gwalior for medical care.

“The Sukhoi flew until it lost altitude and crashed in Bharatpur,” an official from Rajasthan told The Indian Express. Shyam Singh, who is in charge of the police in Bharatpur, said, “There were no deaths in the area.” The plane crashed near the village in a field.”

Wing Commander Sarathi, who died in the crash, was from Belagavi in Karnataka. His wife and two young children, ages 3 and 1, still live there. His father Revanna Siddappa Sarathi retired as an honorary captain, and his older brother Praveen Sarathi is a Group Captain in the IAF.

Sources said that IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari told Defense Minister Rajnath Singh about what happened and that he was keeping a close eye on what happened next.

The Mirage 2000 is a French single-engine fighter jet from the fourth generation that is made by Dassault Aviation. India has a fleet of 50 Mirage 2000s that were bought for strategic missions in different batches starting in 1985. These planes have a good safety record. Gwalior is where the Mirage 2000 squadrons are based.

From what we know, the plane has crashed five times since 2010. The most recent one was in October 2021 in the Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh. In 2019, two pilots were killed when an upgraded Mirage 2000 plane crashed soon after taking off from Bengaluru.

The Su-30 MKI is a multirole air superiority fighter with two engines. It was designed in Russia and is made in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which has a licence to do so.

The IAF has about 260 of these front-line aircraft and is pushing a long-delayed programme to upgrade them. This will give them better weapons, avionics, and sensors, which will add decades to their useful life. Around 10 Su-30s have crashed since 2010.

with ENS inputs from Bengaluru, Jaipur


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