Vietnamese fighter jet missing, one pilot has returned to the shore

By VnExpress   June 15, 2016 | 07:24 am GMT+7
Vietnamese fighter jet missing, one pilot has returned to the shore
Rescued pilot, Major Nguyen Huu Cuong (second from right) returning to his base.

One of the two Su-30 pilots has been rescued and transported safely back to the mainland in stable condition. Chances of finding the remaining pilot are "high". 

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Major Nguyen Huu Cuong was rescued by a fishing boat at around 4:30 a.m. today, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Cong Luc, Deputy Commander in Chief of Nghe An Border Forces, told VnExpress. He was found in the waters off the coast of Nghe An central province, about 28 nautical miles from the location where the fighter jet Sukhoi SU-30 MK2 is believed to have been missing.

All the resources, including fishing vessels, navy ships, border guards, marine police and at least four helicopters continue to search for missing Lieutenant Colonel Tran Quang Khai, Deputy Commander, Chief of Staff, 923rd Fighter Regiment. 

Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, Deputy Chief of the Vietnam People's Army, said "the number one priority right now is to find pilot Tran Quang Khai, ships and plane must continue their job unless ordered otherwise."


Search area for the missing jet

Pilot Nguyen Huu Cuong told Colonel Pham Van Ty, Deputy Director General of Search and Rescue Department (Ministry of Defense), over the phone that both pilots had managed to eject from the plane before it crashed. "Cuong said that when he landed on the sea, both pilots could still see each other's parachutes. The chance of finding the other pilot is very high so the team is restlessly searching," said Ty.

Vietnam People's Air Defense - Air Force confirmed it lost contact with a fighter jet flying offshore the central province of Nghe An yesterday morning. The status of the other pilot, Lieutenant Colonel, Tran Quang Khai, has yet to be confirmed.

The jet departed from Tho Xuan Airport in central Thanh Hoa province for training in the sea. The Su-30MK2 disappeared from radar at 7:29 a.m.

Deputy Minister of Defense has denied rumors that one pilot has swum to the shore.

Based on fishermen's accounts of seeing a falling jet and the last contact point, the search team has narrowed down the location of the jet to around Hon Mat Island (Cua Lo Town, Nghe An Province), around 20 nautical miles from the shore. 

Military Command of Nghe An Province and Vietnam People's Air Defense - Air Force have mobilized helicopters and fishing vessels for the search.

Related news:

> Missing pilot and fighter jet in action during training exercise

> Vietnamese fighter jet missing, search continues

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