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India air force pilot dies after Jaguar fighter jet crash in Gujarat

An Indian Air Force pilot was killed after his fighter jet crashed near the country’s border with Pakistan, officials said.

Air Commodore Sanjay Chauhan was on a routine training mission from Jamnagar in the remote Kutch desert region of Gujarat state when the jet crashed at around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 5, air force officials said.

“The pilot died in the crash and we have ordered an inquiry in the accident,” an IAF official told AFP.

It was not immediately clear what caused the single-seat SEPECAT Jaguar to crash. The Indian Air Force has an active fleet of nearly 160 Jaguars, mostly inducted in the early 1980s. Designed in Europe in the 1960s and 70s, 120 were built in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and are known as Shamsher – “Sword of Justice”.

More than 30 fighter jet have crashed in India since 2012, with most accidents blamed on ageing jets. More than 170 Air Force pilots have died in accidents in the past three decades, mostly in incidents involving Soviet-era aircraft.

Last May, two air force pilots were killed after their Russian-made Sukhoi-30 jet crashed near the border with China.

India is investing billions of dollars in modernising its air force as fears grow over increasing cooperation between its arch-rival Pakistan and China.

New Delhi has signed a contract to purchase 36 Dassault Rafale fighters from France for $8.8 billion. The jets are expected to be delivered in 2019. The Ministry of Defence has also issued a Request for Information for the purchase of 111 new aircraft.

With reporting from AFP

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