Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Commander Nishant Singh had been missing since November 26((Twitter/@abhirajbhal))



A body believed to be of Indian Navy pilot Commander Nishant Singh, missing since a MiG-29 combat jet crashed into the Arabian Sea 11 days ago, has been found by naval rescue teams. The officials are awaiting the result of a DNA test to confirm the identity.

The result of the DNA test alone can confirm the identity as the body was beyond recognition when it was found, people familiar with the developments said on condition of anonymity on Monday.

The people said there were reasons to believe the body was that of Singh but they added that the identity could be established solely through a DNA test, whose result is expected as early as Monday.

The people said the body was recovered near the site where the MiG-29 crashed into the Arabian Sea on November 26. One of the two pilots in the jet was rescued soon after the crash.

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The Indian Navy mobilised nine warships, 14 aircraft and several small vessels for the search and rescue mission to locate Singh. The rescue teams had earlier recovered several components of the Russian-made jet, including the landing gear, fuel tank and engine.

The navy has ordered an inquiry into the crash, the third involving a MiG-29K, the naval variant of the jet, in the past year.

A MiG-29K twin-seat jet crashed in Goa on November 16 last year, though both pilots ejected safely. Another of the jets crashed off the Goa coast on February 23 after taking off from INS Hansa, the main naval airbase in the region. In the second case too, the pilot had ejected safely.

The Indian Navy had purchased 45 MiG-29Ks, the carrier-based version of the multirole combat jet, to be used with the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.