Mirage 2000 crashes in Rajasthan, IAF grounds fleet
A Mirage 2000 fighter plane crashed in Rajasthan on Monday, but the two pilots - squadron leader Raj Kumar and flight lieutenant Kanav - ejected safely, said a defence spokesperson.
But a second crash involving the French-origin aircraft in 11 days prompted the Indian Air Force (IAF) to ground the fleet pending safety checks.
The plane crashed on a hill near Bamanwas village in Sawai Madhopur district, nearly 70 km southwest of Jaipur, around 12.30pm. The plane had taken off from the Gwalior airbase for a routine sortie at 12.01pm
A court of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the crash, the third involving an IAF aircraft this year.
On February 24, a Mirage 2000 aircraft had crashed near Bhind in Madhya Pradesh. On January 30, a Kiran MK II trainer plane had crashed in Chennai.
The Mirage 2000 fighters were inducted into the IAF in the mid-1980s. Last year, French defence firms Thales and Dassault Aviation had signed a $2.4 billion (Rs12,000 crore) deal with the Indian defence ministry for upgrading 51 Mirage 2000 fighter planes.
The firms will equip the fighters with new avionics, radars, electronic warfare suites, glass cockpits and helmet-mounted displays. The air force expects the upgrade programme - India's costliest so far - to extend the life of the multi-role fighters by 20 years.
The government also gave its go-ahead to a proposal in January to arm the fighter with air-to-air missiles that can engage targets beyond visual range (distances of 40 km and above).
The air force is buying 490 Mica missiles from European defence major MBDA Missile Systems at Euro 950 million (Rs6,650 crore) to arm the plane.