Eight Romanian Army military were killed as a MIG-21 LanceR and an IAR-330 Puma helicopter crashed in south-eastern Romania on Wednesday night.
The first to disappear off the radar while carrying out an air patrol mission was the MIG-21 LanceR aircraft of the 86th Air Base, carrying out a patrol mission over Dobrogea. The aircraft lost its radio connection with the control tower and at 20:03hrs it fell off the radar in an area between Cogealac and Gura Dobrogei.
Search-and-rescue operations were launched as a matter of urgency, and a Puma IAR-330 helicopter took off to the area of possible impact, with seven military on board, including two rescuers from the Romanian Naval Forces .
The helicopter lost its radio connection with the base around 20:44hrs and crashed in the area of Gura Dobrogei, Constanta County, nearly 11 km from the airfield.
An investigation is under way into the cause of the crashes.
Prosecutors with the Military Prosecutor’s Office with the Bucharest Military Tribunal have opened a criminal case in rem in connection with two plane crashes that left eight people dead.
According to Military Prosecutor’s Office, the case regards culpable homicide and failure to take legal measures for safety and health at work.
President Iohannis sends message of condolences: I want to express my deep regret and full compassion
President Klaus Iohannis sent on Wednesday evening a message of condolences following the crash of an IAR 330 Puma helicopter in the area of Gura Dobrogei, Constanta County.
“I want to express my deep regret and full compassion for the loss of life of seven soldiers of the 57th Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, following the crash of an IAR 330 Puma helicopter, in the area of Gura Dobrogei, Constanta County. The helicopter was on a rescue mission to evacuate a MiG21 LanceR aircraft, when it disappeared from the radar. On this tragic night for Romanian aviation, my thoughts turn to the grieving families hard hit by this dramatic loss. My condolences to them, wishing them lot of strength in these painful moments,” reads the President’s message, according to the Presidential Administration.
Defence Ministry: Religious ceremonies will be organized in all military units in the country and in those deployed outside the national territory to commemorate the fallen soldiers
Captain Costinel Iosif Nita, the pilot of the MiG-21 LanceR plane that crashed on Wednesday in the Constanta County, lost his life, the Ministry of National Defence reported.
The pilot was 31 years old, married and had no children.
Since 2014, he had been a pilot in the 861st Combat Aviation Squadron of the 86th Air Base in Borcea.
He had accumulated over 570 flight hours, of which approximately 420 on the LanceR MiG-21.
A commission of the General Staff of the Air Force and of the Military Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Constanta Military Court continues the investigation into the circumstances that led to the crash.
“The leadership of the Ministry of Defence expresses its regret for the tragic accident and their thoughts are with the grieving family of Captain Costinel Iosif Nita, who fell on duty. On Thursday, religious ceremonies will be organized in all military units in the country and in those deployed outside the national territory to commemorate the fallen soldiers,” reads a press release of the Ministry of National Defence.
Chief of the Defence Staff General Daniel Petrescu: The Romanian Army family is sad; Seven of its soldiers paid the highest price while carrying out the mission of rescuing a comrade
Chief of the Defence Staff General Daniel Petrescu voiced his deep regret over the crash of an IAR -330 Puma helicopter, near the Gura Dobrogei locality, Constanta county.
“The Romanian Army family is sad. Seven of its soldiers paid the highest price while carrying out the mission of rescuing a comrade. I express my deep regret for the tragic event! My thoughts are with the grieving families! Sincere compassion! God rest them!,” wrote the Chief of Staff on his Facebook page.
DefMin Dincu: We risked the lives of our soldiers flying these planes
Romanian soldiers risked their lives flying MiG aircraft because of the aircraft’s age and the fact that funds “did not allow more than the modernisation of these aircraft,” Defence Minister Vasile Dincu said on Thursday.
He told Digi 24 private broadcaster about an aviation incident on Wednesday night when two aircraft crashes left eight soldiers dead.
Regarding the investigation in this case, the minister explained that “we can only take into account the technical condition, the weather, obviously, the management of the action. There are three dimensions on which this investigation is carried out.”
“What we can do now is a correct investigation as soon as possible, in order to prevent these tragedies from happening again,” Dincu said.
He also said that the MiG aircraft are old.
“Obviously, we risked the lives of our pilots, of our young people flying these planes, because these planes do not correspond practically to what is happening today, to the missions that are needed today,” said Dincu, adding that “funds did not allow more than the modernisation of these aircraft and the consequences are now visible.”
Asked if the plane crashes could be related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Dincu replied: “That is absolutely out of the question; there is no evidence and there are no circumstances leading to such conclusion. All are science fiction scenarios.”
Compiled from Agerpres