The debris of Indian Air Force’s Suryakiran Aerobatic Team that crashed near the Yelahanka airbase

Bengaluru: Just a day ahead of the Aero India Show, two aircraft of Suryakiran Aerobatic Team of Indian Air Force collided mid-air and crashed at a Bengaluru neighbourhood on Tuesday killing one pilot. The collision took place at around 11:50 am between two Surya Kiran aircraft (Hawks) jets of the Indian Air Force during a practice sortie near the Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru. According to visuals, there were three pilots in the two aircraft that crashed. However, eyewitness stated that they saw two parachutes eject.

The deceased pilot has been identified as Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who flew the Suryakiran 7. The other two pilots have been identified as Wing Commander Vijay Shelke and Squadron Leader Tejeshwar Singh. Both have suffered injuries and have been moved to Command Hospital. A court of inquiry will investigate the cause of the accident, IAF said.

Still of the two Suryakiran aircraft as it came crashing down near the Yelahanka airbase

In one part of the video it shows the two Hawk jets crashing down, while performing a complex maneuver while in another part showed thick, black plumes of smoke rising from the airbase. The area near the burning jets has been cordoned off by the police.

This comes just over two weeks after an Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jet crashed near the HAL airport in the city killing two airmen — Squadron Leader Siddharth Negi and Squadron Leader Sameer Abrol. The mishap occurred when the flight was being flown for a test sortie.

Meanwhile, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is in Bengaluru, had rushed to the Yelahanka airbase soon after the incident took place but refused to comment anything on the matter.

The 12th edition of Aero India will be held between February 20 and 24 and will showcase latest technologies and products by global aerospace majors in the presence of thousands of visitors. Besides business delegates from the world over, official delegations from a dozen countries will witness the flypast and aerobatic display on the inaugural day. As against 72 aircraft in the previous edition in 2017, only 61 aircraft have registered for flying and static display on the tarmac of the air base this time. Bengaluru has been hosting the aero show since it started in 1996. The last Aero India show was held in February 2017.

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