A major tragedy was averted by a quick-thinking Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot on Thursday morning when an a deep penetration Jaguar strike fighter suffered a bird hit.
The incident occurred soon after the jet took off from the Ambala air base near Pakistan's border on Thursday morning. The jet was set to take part in a training sortie.
One of the two engines of the aircraft was knocked out when it struck a bird.
Meanwhile, as part of a special operating procedure (SOP), the small bombs dropped by the pilot have been recovered, IAF sources said.
Ambala air base is located in a heavily populated area of Haryana; Ambala Police confirmed the payload of the aircraft had fallen in the city.
“The pilot jettisoned his fuel tanks and external stores, including some 10 kg practice bombs, to gain height and managed to land back safely,” an IAF official told Indian news agency ANI.
IAF Sources: An IAF Jaguar pilot jettisoned fuel tanks of his aircraft after one of the engines failed after being hit by a bird, pilot managed to land back safely at the Ambala air base. Small practice bombs jettisoned by his aircraft have also been recovered. pic.twitter.com/tXG3x1MDqR— ANI (@ANI) June 27, 2019
The IAF’s Jaguar fleet has been waiting for an engine upgrade for years to make it more agile. The IAF has so far lost 10 aircraft in 2019; making it the most unsafe year for the force in many years. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh warned India's parliament on Wednesday that the force had lost at least 33 aircraft, including 19 fighter jets, since 2015-16.
Earlier this month, a n AN-32 crashed in Arunachala Pradesh near China's border.
"Every aircraft accident in the IAF is investigated by a Court of Inquiry (CoI) to ascertain the cause of accident, and the recommendations of the completed Court of Inquiry are implemented," Rajnath Singh said.