Both Accidents in Different Regions on Thursday Resulted in Fatalities.
Two significant military aviation accidents occurred on Thursday, April 12, 2018. One in the Aegean Sea near the Greek Isles, the other one, in Algeria, Africa.
A Hellenic (Greek) Air Force Mirage 2000-5 aircraft crashed near the Greek Isle of Skyros in the Aegean Sea on Thursday. The aircraft was returning from an intercept mission on Turkish Air Force F-16s. In spite the initial reports, the crash of the Mirage 2000-5 was unrelated to the earlier “engagement” with the Turkish aircraft and occurred after the aircraft were in proximity of each other.
The Greek news outlet Ekathimerini reported that “The Mirage 2000-5 jet fell some nine miles northeast of the island [Skyros] which is part of the Sporades group near the central Aegean,” according to a statement issued by the Hellenic Air Force. “According to Greek defense sources, the Mirage had been one of two Greek jets on a mission to intercept Turkish jets in the Aegean earlier in the day.” The news outlet went on to report that the same sources said they did not believe any hostile activity was involved in the accident. The crash is reported to have occurred sometime around noon local time on Thursday.
A Turkish language publication, Milliyet.com.tr, named the pilot of the Greek Mirage 2000-5 as 34-year-old pilot was named Captain Giorgos Baltadoros of the 331 Air Force Squadron from Tanagra. Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos wrote on Twitter that Capt. Baltadoros was, “A hero who fell in the fight to defend our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The Mirage 2000-5 is a successful French designed multi-role supersonic delta wing combat aircraft built by the Dassault company in France. The Hellenic Air Force ordered 15 of this, latest version of the Mirage aircraft in August of 2000. The Greeks already operated a force of 40 earlier model Dassault Mirage 2000 aircraft. The Dassault Mirage is a common combat aircraft throughout the Mediterranean, Africa and Middle East and boasts a proven combat record.
In a separate, unrelated crash on Thursday a Russian-built, Algerian Air Force Ilyushin Il-76 heavy transport crashed after takeoff from Boufarik military airport, west of Algiers, Algeria. The aircraft was en route to Bechar and Tindouf in the south-west of Algeria according to a report filed by the BBC World News.
News outlets throughout Africa, Asia and Europe are reporting up to 257 fatalities from the crash. This is the largest number of people to perish in an aviation accident since the July 2014 crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board flight MH17 died in the 2014 crash.
Some persons on board the Algerian Air Force IL-76 were taken to hospital after rescue operations began according to Algerian authorities as reported by the BBC. No other reliable information has been seen about possible survivors.
Based on photos and video from the crash scene, the aircraft appeared to have gone down during daylight hours. The BBC reported that, “A military aviation observer told the BBC that, based on how intact portions of the plane were, they believed the pilot had tried to crash-land.” There has been no confirmation of that report from Algerian sources.
The Ilyushin Il-76 is a large, four jet engine heavy transport aircraft built in Russia. It is roughly similar in basic configuration to the U.S. built C-17 Globemaster III. The aircraft is valued for its heavy payload capability and the ability to land and take-off from unimproved runways making it well suited for operations on the African continent. The Algerian Air Force is reported to operate a total of 17 of the heavy jet transports. The Ilyushin IL-76 (NATO reporting name “Candid”) is widely used by military and commercial air transport services around the world and has an excellent safety record for such a prolific aircraft. The IL-76 first flew in March 1971.
Top image: An Algerian IL-76 (left) and Greek Mirage 2000-5 both crashed on Thursday. (Photo: via Wikipedia)