An Indian Navy MiG-29K fighter aircraft crashed into the Arabian Sea last evening while undertaking a regular training sortie after taking off from the decks of INS Vikramaditya.
The aircraft, a two-seater trainer version, was operating at sea when it was ditched at about 5 pm on Thursday.
“While one pilot was rescued, the second pilot Cdr Nishant Singh is still missing. A massive search involving ships and aircraft have been launched. But there is no information so far. An inquiry to investigate the incident has been ordered," a Navy spokesperson said.
This is the third accident of the Russian-origin combat jets in the last one year.
On November 16 last year, a MiG-29K trainer crashed in south Goa. Three months later on February 23 another trainer crashed after being hit by birds over Goa. Fortunately, in both cases, both the pilots had ejected safely.
In January 2018, a naval MiG-29K fighter aircraft veered off the runway and caught fire inside INS Hansa, the naval base that houses the naval combat platforms.
New Delhi purchased 45 such naval fighters from Russia at a cost of Rs 10,409 crore a decade ago and the first MiG-29K squadron was commissioned in Goa in August 2013.
However, in a 2016 report, the Comptroller and Auditor General pointed out the MiG29K fighter jets had operational deficiencies due to defects in engines, airframe and fly-by-wire equipment. Further, the aircraft continues to suffer from low serviceability.
INS Vikramaditya was part of the second phase of the Malabar exercise involving navies of India, the US, Australia and Japan. The MIG-29K fleet onboard the aircraft carrier was also involved in the mega naval drill that took place from November 17-20.