The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will conduct a joint probe into the crash of an upgraded version of the Mirage-2000 fighter jet, a Defence Ministry official said on Saturday.
“The black box has been recovered from the crashed jet by the HAL and IAF, who will be conducting a joint inquiry into the incident,” the official told IANS.
Squadron Leaders Samir Abrol and Siddharth Negi died of fatal injuries after the aircraft crashed on Friday at the military airport runway near Bengaluru when it was on an acceptance sortie following its upgrade by the HAL.
Abrol from Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, and Negi from Dehradun, Uttarakhand, were commissioned in the Air Force a decade ago and were on deputation as test pilots at the IAF’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) here.
Negi’s last rites are likely to be held in Bengaluru and Abrol’s in Ghaziabad, an IAF spokesman told IANS.
The ill-fated fighter jet was originally built by the French aerospace major Dassault Aviation.
According to eyewitnesses, the plane went up in flames after crashing with an explosion. Passers-by and residents living near the airport could see thick smoke billowing from the spot.
The Mirage 2000 is equipped with ‘zero speed, zero altitude’ ejection seats, which allow the pilots to eject even if the aircraft is on the ground and is not moving. HAL is working on upgrading the IAF’s Mirage 2000 fleet with new electronics and weaponry.