The final location of the crash site is in the dense mountainous jungles south of the Tenga Valley.
New Delhi: The two pilots of the ill-fated Sukhoi 30 MKI that crashed in the Arunachal Pradesh foothills on Tuesday last week sustained fatal injuries and could not initiate ejection, the IAF has said in a release officially declaring the death of the two pilots.
“Possibly the aircraft went down very fast and the two pilots possibly did not even have the time to press the eject button,” a reliable source told this newspaper.
“The body parts have not been found as is expected of a case of this sort,” the source added. A few objects and remnants like one shoe belonging to Squadron Leader Divesh Pankaj with some remains of flesh inside the shoe, a money purse belonging to Flight Lieutenant Achu Dev that have been recovered from the site have been sent for DNA analysis.
“A final picture will emerge only after the DNA analysis and an examination of the aircraft’s black box that was recovered on Sunday,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee said.
The final location of the crash site is in the dense mountainous jungles south of the Tenga Valley. An important landmark on the way to Tawang, Tenga Valley is situated at an altitude of 6,500 feet.
The two-seater Su 30 MKI carrying two pilots had been reported missing at about 11.10 am on Tuesday, about 40 minutes after taking off from an airbase at Assam’s Tezpur. It was on a routine training mission with a flight plan towards Arunachal Pradesh.
Inclement weather condition and adverse terrain had hampered the massive Search and Rescue mission mounted to locate the pilots and the aircraft. A number of assets including a C-130 J, Su 30, Dhruv and Chetak helicopters were employed in the search mission besides 18 ground teams that included Army and the civilian personnel.
Besides invaluable lives, this is the eighth Sukhoi fighter to have crashed with the cumulative losses being estimated at about Rs 2, 700 crore.
With a speed of about 2,100 kmph and a range of 3,000 km, the Sukhoi 30 can remain airborne for more than 3.5 hours with mid-air refueling. Presently the frontline fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force, the plane is capable of carrying a variety of weapons besides an ongoing effort to fit the supersonic Brahmos missile onto the aircraft.
The IAF is already reeling from a shortage of fighter aircraft squadrons. Of the 43 squadrons required in case of a two-front war scenario, the IAF fields only 33 squadrons.