A Sukhoi fighter jet suffered major damage after being hit by a bird in Rajasthan's Jopdhpur last week, underlining the threat to the crucial Western Air Command base.
The incident was recounted on Monday by Jodhpur airbase Air Officer-in-Command Phillip Thomas to the district administration, which is responsible for the upkeep of the open part of a drain outside the military aerodrome.
The drain has become a breeding ground for birds and dogs. "The birds have emerged as a major threat to our jets' safety. In past five years alone, we have had 53 such cases. Of this, nine cases were reported this year itself," Office Thomas
"The Sukhoi aircraft was hit by a bird during its routine sortie. The pilot made an emergency landing with the help of the second engine but the aircraft sustained major damage as the bird was sucked in one of its engines," he added.
The aircraft will now remain grounded for over six months and incur a huge repair cost, he added.
AoC Thomas said stray dogs enter the airbase through the open drain, posing a major safety hazard to jets, he said.
Divisional Commissioner B L Kothari, who chaired the meeting, assured Air Force authorities of taking prompt steps to rectify the situation. "We have visited the spot mentioned by the Air Force and will see how the problem can be addressed," he said.