The Navy on Monday reportedly recovered the body of missing MiG-29k pilot Commander Nishant Singh more than 10 days after he went missing off the coast of Goa.
The body, believed to be of Cdr Nishant Singh, has been found 30 miles off the coast of Goa on the sea bed 70 metres below water after an extensive search mission.
As per protocol, his family has been informed and DNA tests are underway to confirm the identity of the corpse.
"Mortal remains of a human body have been recovered in the vicinity of the wreckage site. The samples are being sent for DNA testing for confirmation of identity," a statement from the Indian Navy said.
The MiG-29K jet had crashed on November 26 while operating over the Arabian Sea. The Russian-origin jet had taken off from aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and went down at around 5 pm on November 26.
The INS Vikramaditya was part of the recent Malabar exercise involving the navies of India, the US, Australia and Japan.
While one pilot was rescued successfully, Cdr Nishant had gone missing after ejecting from the plane.
NAVY LAUNCHES MASSIVE SEARCH OP
A massive search operation was launched by the Navy to locate Cdr Nishant Singh. The Navy deployed a significant number of surveillance aircraft and ships to locate the missing pilot.
On November 29, the Navy recovered some debris of the MiG-29K aircraft that went missing but found no trace of Commander Nishant Singh.
"Some debris of the aircraft, including landing gear, turbocharger, fuel tank engine and wing engine cowling have been located," it said.
The Indian Navy deployed nine warships, 14 aircraft and a number of fast interceptor craft as part of the search and rescue mission to trade the missing pilot.
The Navy said, "Aerial search by maritime reconnaissance aircraft and helicopter sorties amounting to 270 hours have been undertaken so far. Underwater search around the crash site which include extensive dives by saturation divers and continuous overnight search using HD camera have been undertaken in the last 10 days."
"All sections of the aircraft wreckage including ejection seats have been accounted for using side-scan sonar and HD cameras. The flight data recorder/cockpit voice recorder along with other important material has been recovered so far for analysis/investigation," it said.
Apart from warships and aircraft of the Navy, the coastal police are on the lookout for the missing pilot, he said, adding nearby fishing villages had also been sensitised about the incident.
THIRD MIG ACCIDENT IN A YEAR
This is the third accident involving the Mig-29K aircraft in the past one year.
A MiG-29K twin-seat fighter aircraft had crashed in South Goa district in November last year and both the pilots had ejected safely. Another MIG-29K crashed into the Arabian Sea off the Goa coast on February 23 this year after taking off from INS Hansa, a prominent naval air station at Vasco in Goa. The pilot of the aircraft had managed to eject safely.
The MiG-29K is an all-weather carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft developed by Russian aerospace company Mikoyan (MiG). The Indian Navy had procured a fleet of 45 MiG-29Ks from Russia over a decade back at a cost of around USD 2 billion to operate from INS Vikramaditya.