An Air Force's MiG-27 fighter jet crashed into a field near Jodhpur minutes after taking off from the airbase in the Rajasthan district. The pilot ejected safely, defence spokesperson Colonel Sombit Ghosh said. The plane was on a routine mission.
On seeing the dry field at Deoria lit up by burning jet fuel, villagers informed the local authorities, which sent some fire trucks to control the situation.
Air Force officials arrived at the crash site and took away the pilot. The MiG-27 had taken off from the IAF's Jodhpur airbase.
"A MiG-27 aircraft airborne from Jodhpur crashed during a routine mission today morning. Pilot ejected safely. A court of inquiry will investigate the cause of the accident," Colonel Ghosh said.
Eyewitnesses said they saw two jets flying together, but one of them suddenly took a turn towards the open field and crashed near Devalia village in Banad area.
"We saw the pilot ejecting and he parachuted into the field," said Sunil Bishnoi, one of the eyewitnesses. "We believe the pilot turned the aircraft towards the field in order to avoid crashing into a populated area," he said.
Another eyewitness, Omprakash, said he saw thick smoke coming out of the jet before it crashed.
The MiG-27 is a Soviet era ground-attack aircraft that India bought in the early 1980s. It flew strike missions in the Kargil War in 1999, hitting hard targets in the mountains.