| The burnt wreck of the fighter jet. (Inset) The air force team brings out the black box. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Uttar Majidkhana (Alipurduar)/New Delhi, Oct. 19: A MiG 27 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed into a crop field in north Bengal this morning. The pilot, wing commander K.D. Singh, bailed out and was said to safe but for minor injuries.
The aircraft, on a routine training flight, crashed 36 km east of the Hashimara air base at 10.17 am after taking off from there a few minutes earlier. The village of Uttar Majidkhana, where the crash took place, lies under Samuktala police station and is located 17 km from Alipurduar town.
Two villagers suffered injuries when they tried to take cover as the MiG 27 crashed into a field of paddy and brinjal. Around five domestic animals were killed in the crash.
The IAF spokesman in New Delhi, wing commander Mahesh Upasani, said: “The aircraft was on a routine training mission. An inquiry has been ordered to investigate the reasons for the accident.”
IAF sources at Hashimara base put the crash down to a mechanical snag. “The MiG 27 suddenly developed a mechanical problem and Singh was forced to bail out. His parachute landed 2 km from the crash site. Singh is now in Hashimara hospital and is safe,” said squadron leader Santosh Babu. “We have recovered the black box,” he added.
The IAF has six squadrons of MiG 27 aircraft (a little less than 120). Squadron no. 22, nicknamed the “Swifts”, is based in Hashimara.
The pilot had been picked up by police and was being taken to Alipurduar Hospital when they were intercepted by an air force helicopter, which took Singh to Hashimara Air Force Hospital.
Assistant sub-inspector Pradeep Chakroborty was around 50 ft from the spot on a routine investigation when the jet crashed. “I heard a noise and looked up to see the aircraft spinning around before it crashed. Then there were three blasts as the jet caught fire. I immediately informed my superiors,” said an excited Chakroborty.
Two fire engines from Alipurduar rushed to the spot and brought the blaze under control in two hours. Meanwhile, additional superintendent of police K.B. Dorji and subdivisional police officer Bhashkar Mukherjee led a huge force to the area, even as a crowd of around 5,000 gathered. The IAF team arrived around 1 pm.
This is the sixth crash the air force has suffered in 2006. The five other crashes have involved MiG aircraft, but of different makes. The last to crash was a MiG 29 on September 28 near Ambala.