A Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter of the Azerbaijani Air Force crashed into the Caspian Sea on Thursday night and the pilot is missing. The MiG-29 was on a training sortie when it lost contact with ground control and plunged into the sea at around 11 pm local time (12:30 am Friday).
"On July 24, at about 22.00 during a scheduled training flight conducted at night, communication with the MiG-29 fighter of the Azerbaijan Air Force was suddenly interrupted, and the aircraft disappeared from radar screens. According to the preliminary assumptions, as a result of a flight accident, a military aircraft fell into the Caspian Sea. Urgent steps are being taken to search and rescue the pilot. The commission, established on the instructions of the Minister of Defense, launched an investigation into the causes of the crash," the ministry said in a press release.
The twin-engine MiG-29 is an air superiority fighter and was developed in the 1970s by the then Soviet Union to take on the US F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon. More than 30 countries have the MiG-29 in their arsenal with the Indian Air Force being the biggest operator after Russia.
It first took to the skies on October 6, 1977, and joined service with the Soviet Union Air Force in July 1982. Since then over 1,600 MiG-29 have been built.
MiG-29 is the standard fighter of the Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force, also called the Azerbaijani Air Force. The force operates several Russian-origin aircraft. These include the Sukhoi Su-24 and Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-24 bomber, MiG-21 and Mig-29 fighters. The interceptor fleet has the MiG-25.
The attack helicopter fleet includes Mi-24 and Mi-35M while Orbiter UAV, Aerostar, Elbit Hermes 450, IAI Searcher, IAI Heron are the reconnaissance aerial assets. L-39 is the trainer plane while the transport component includes Il-76, Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-171.