South Asia News
Indian fighter jet crashes
Feb 24, 2012, 12:04 GMT
New Delhi - A Mirage 2000 combat aircraft crashed in central India during a training exercise Friday, officials said.
Both pilots ejected before the crash, and had been admitted to hospital, Air Force spokesman Gerard Galway said.
The aircraft crashed soon after taking off from an air base near Gwalior in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, he said.
Thirty of India's fighter jets have crashed since 2008, according to the Defence Ministry. Most were part of the fleet of 51 Russian-made MiG aircraft.
The Mirage manufactured by France's Dassault Aviation SA was inducted into the force in the mid-1980s. Four crashed in 2004, but Galway said the French jets had a fairly good track record in the past five years.
The Air Force is in the process of phasing out older aircraft and upgrading its fleet.
In January, Dassault won a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply India with 126 Rafale fighter jets. The deal is in the process of being finalized.
The Air Force in 2011 also signed two contracts worth over 3.2 billion dollars with Dassault and Thales SA, another French company specialized in missile guidance systems, to upgrade the Mirage 2000.