Navy pilot killed in Sea Harrier crash

The Sea Harrier crashed 15 nautical miles west off Goa coast at 11:57 am, 42 minutes after take-off for a training mission with the Navy chief witnessing the exercise.

“Lieutenant Commander Saurav Saxena, pilot of the single seater version of the aircraft, lost his life in the incident. His body was later found,” said Captain Surendra Ahuja, Chief of INS Hansa, the Navy’s air base in Goa. The Navy has ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into the mishap, a Naval spokesperson said in New Delhi.

Mehta, who is on a farewell tour to Goa, told reporters: “Every crash that takes place is a matter of concern”. Asked if it was because of the aging Harriers, he said: “The aircraft has undergone mid-life upgrade. New equipment such as electronic sensors have been fitted onto the aircraft. The machines are very much flight worthy”.

Navy officials described the deceased pilot as “well trained”. Navy officials in Goa said the aircraft wreckage has been spotted and the cause of the mishap would be known once the flight data recorder is recovered.

This crash is the second Naval air accident this year, the previous one involving a Kamov 28 helicopter in March 2009. The last Sea Harrier accident was reported in December 2007 off Goa, in which the pilot had bailed out safely. The Navy is now just left with 10 Sea Harriers of the over 20 it had bought in mid-1980s. These aircraft are currently operated by the Navy from its lone aircraft carrier INS Viraat and from shore-based air bases.

PTI

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