Body found 11 days after MiG-29 pilot goes missing, DNA test result awaited
A body believed to be of Indian Navy pilot Commander Nishant Singh, missing since a MiG-29 combat jet crashed into the Arabian Sea 11 days ago, has been found by naval rescue teams. The officials are awaiting the result of a DNA test to confirm the identity.
The result of the DNA test alone can confirm the identity as the body was beyond recognition when it was found, people familiar with the developments said on condition of anonymity on Monday.
“Mortal remains of a human body have been recovered in the vicinity of the wreckage. The samples are being sent for DNA testing for confirmation of identity,” said a statement from the Indian Navy.
The people said the body was recovered near the site where the MiG-29 crashed into the Arabian Sea on November 26. One of the two pilots in the jet was rescued soon after the crash.
“All sections of the aircraft wreckage, including ejection seats, have been accounted for using side scan sonar and HD cameras. The FDR/CVR [flight data recorder/cockpit voice recorder] along with other important material have been recovered so far for analysis [and] investigation,” the statement said.
The navy had mobilised nine warships, 14 aircraft and several small vessels for the search and rescue mission to locate Singh. The rescue teams had earlier recovered several components of the Russian-made jet, including the landing gear, fuel tank and engine.
The statement said maritime surveillance aircraft and helicopter had flown sorties totalling 270 hours during the search. The underwater search around the crash site included extensive efforts by divers and continuous overnight search using high-definition cameras over the past 10 days.
The navy has ordered an inquiry into the crash, the third involving a MiG-29K, the naval variant of the jet, in the past year.
A MiG-29K twin-seat jet crashed in Goa on November 16 last year, though both pilots ejected safely. Another of the jets crashed off the Goa coast on February 23 after taking off from INS Hansa, the main naval airbase in the region. In the second case too, the pilot had ejected safely.
The Indian Navy had purchased 45 MiG-29Ks, the carrier-based version of the multirole combat jet, to be used with the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.