The Indian Air Force has confirmed that two senior pilots were killed after they ejected from a Mirage 2000 fighter during its take-off run at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) runway in Yemalur in Bengaluru this morning.
The pilots have been identified as Squadron Leader Sameer Abrol and Squadron Leader Siddarth Negi.
The incident took place at 10.30 am. The Mirage 2000 is equipped with ‘zero-zero’ (zero speed, zero altitude) ejection seats which enable the pilots to bail out even if the aircraft is on the ground and is not moving. It is unclear at what stage of the take-off run the fighter was in when the pilots decided to eject.
The aircraft was on an acceptance sortie after an upgrade by the HAL. Investigation on the cause of the accident is being ordered, said an official.
The state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) makes and upgrades aircraft for training and combat operations of the IAF as the country’s sole defence behemoth. It also maintains and operates the military airport in Bengaluru.
The IAF operates 50 French-made Mirage 2000 fighters (after today’s crash) which are in the process of being upgraded. The fighters started entering service in 1985.