Pune: A Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft of the IAF on Tuesday crashed soon after taking off from Lohegaon airbase near here but both the pilots managed to bail out safely.

"Both the pilots flying the aircraft ejected in time and landed safely. They have been evacuated and taken to the base for medical attention," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Gerard Galway said.

The aircraft, which was on a routine mission, had taken off from Lohegaon airbase at 1245 hours. It crashed at 1310 hours, he said.

"A Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the crash and an IAF team has been rushed to the site of the wreckage," he said in New Delhi.

He said the aircraft lost contact with the base after apparently developing a technical problem, but the pilots managed to eject out safely in time. No casualty was reported on the ground, he said.

Pune Collector Vikas Deshmukh said the plane caught fire after crashing at an open forest department land. Fire tenders from the vicinity had been rushed to the spot, he said.

This is the third crash of the Russian origin Su-30 fighter planes since they were inducted into the IAF in 1997.

Today's crash is the eighth mishap involving IAF fighter aircraft this year. Seven MiG series aircraft had crashed earlier this year.

Before the SU-30 accident, a MiG-21 Bison had crashed in Sirsa in Haryana on December 2. During last three years, the IAF has lost 30 fighter aircraft and 10 helicopters in various crashes.

26 defence personnel including 13 pilots have lost their lives in these crashes along with six civilians on the ground.

(Agencies)