Wed. May 11th, 2022

A Romanian fighter jet disappeared in the country’s southeast, with a helicopter crashing during a search-and-rescue op

A Romanian MiG-21 LanceR fighter jet disappeared from the radar in the southeastern region of Dobrogea late on Wednesday, the country’s Defense Ministry has said. The incident was followed by the crash of an IAR 330 Puma helicopter, dispatched to locate the jet.

The fighter aircraft, which is an Israeli-upgraded version of the iconic 1960s Soviet jet, disappeared some 15 minutes after taking off and heading to patrol the coastal region bordering Ukraine. A search and rescue mission was scrambled, with the helicopter dispatched to find the jet.

The helicopter, however, disappeared some 20 minutes into its mission as well, the military has said. Before the comms were lost, its pilot reported extremely bad weather conditions in the area.

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FILE PHOTO. F-16 jest of the Romanian Air Force. ©Eugen Mihai / Romanian Defense Ministry
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The helicopter was confirmed to have crashed some two hours later, with the country’s Defense Minister Vasile Dincu extending his condolences to the victims of the crash.

“Today is a sad day for the Romanian Army family. The five members of the crew of the IAR 330-Puma helicopter, on a search-and-rescue mission for the MiG 21 LanceR aircraft, were found dead in the area of Gura Dobrogea, approximately 11 km from the aerodrome,” said the defense minister.

Local media reports, however, put the death toll even higher, suggesting that seven people have been killed in the helicopter crash. Footage aired by the media shows the husk of the helicopter, apparently heavily damaged on impact, engulfed in flames.

The MiG-21 LanceR jet, as of the moment of writing, remains missing, with the military continuing its efforts to locate the plane and its pilot.