Missing Polish fighter jet found; pilot ejected before crash
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Wreckage from a Polish fighter jet that disappeared from radar Monday was found near a domestic air base, but the pilot of the Russian-made plane survived the crash, a defense official said.
Deputy Defense Minister Bartosz Kownacki said the pilot was able to eject before the MIG-29 fighter went down near the central Polish town of Minsk Mazowiecki, which hosts an air base.
The Defense Ministry said the accident took place on the jet’s approach to the base.
Col. Piotr Iwaszko, commander of Tactical Air Force Base in Minsk Mazowiecki, said the crash was the first of a MiG-29 in Poland. He said he has grounded the 15 remaining MiG-29 planes at the bsae.
The pilot had not reported any problems before the plane crashed in woods close to the village of Kaluszyn, Iwaszko said.
The ministry said the 28-year-old pilot suffered broken limbs, but was conscious when he was taken to a military hospital in Warsaw. His life wasn’t considered to be in danger, the ministry said.
Prosecutors and army police have opened an investigation into the cause of the crash, according to the ministry.
Earlier, Polish state television news channel TVP INFO reported that 10 teams of firefighters were searching for a missing fighter jet that had disappeared from radar near the base.
The Polish air force uses mostly NATO hardware and U.S. F-16s, but still operates some Russian equipment, including the MiG-29, which is being upgraded, but also gradually phased out.
This version has been corrected to restore a dropped word and correct that the pilot’s life was not considered to be in danger.