New Delhi: The two missing pilots of the Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet which crashed on the Arunachal-Assam border last week have been declared dead by the Indian Air Force. The two pilots – Squadron Leader D Pankaj and Flight Lieutenant S Achudev – could not eject at the time of the crash, according to the analysis of the jet’s Flight Data Recorder and some other articles recovered from the crash site.
“Squadron Leader D Pankaj and Flight Lieutenant S Achudev, the pilots of the Su-30 aircraft sustained fatal injuries when the aircraft crashed,” the Air Force said.
The Sukhoi Su-30 had taken off from the Tezpur air base, around 10.30 am on May 23 on a routine training mission but lost radar and radio contact with the controlling station around 11.10 am near Arunachal Pradesh’s Doulasang area, adjoining China. It was part of a two-aircraft formation when it went missing.
The wreckage was found on May 26 through aerial recce, in a thick forest around 60 km from Tezpur. Search and rescue teams on Tuesday found a blood stained shoe, half-burnt PAN card and a wallet of one of the two pilots.
The fighter jet’s blackbox was recovered on Sunday by teams comprising the Army, the Air Force and civil administration personnel.
The Air Force has called an inquiry into the crash.
Tezpur has one of the three Air Force air bases in the country that host the Sukhois. The Tezpur Air Force station is 172 km from the China border.
The Sukhoi Su-30 is a Russian-made, twin-engine fighter meant for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface missions. The first of the Su-30 planes were inducted by the IAF in the late 1990s.