Vietnam rescues 1 of 2 pilots missing on training flight


HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam has rescued one of the two pilots who went missing on a training flight on a Russian-made jet fighter, state media and officials said Wednesday.

The state-run Nghe An newspaper said a fishing boat rescued Major Nguyen Huu Cuong early Wednesday morning, one day after his Sukhoi Su-30 MK2 with another pilot went down off the coast of the central province of Nghe An.

Cuong ejected from the plane before it crashed, the report said, adding he was in stable condition.

The Vietnamese Air Force operates 32 Su-30 MK2 planes, according to state media.

Nguyen Cong Luc, deputy commander of the coast guard in Nghe An province, confirmed the report when contacted by telephone, and said a coast guard vessel has been sent to reach the fishing boat to bring the pilot to shore.

Authorities were searching for the other pilot, he said. The Thanh Nien newspaper quoted a rescue official as saying the other pilot, Lt. Colonel Tran Quang Khai, also ejected from the plane, and that the two could still see each other’s parachutes when they hit the sea.

The incident was the latest in a string of accidents to hit the military. At least two crashes of military helicopters in the past two years have killed 24 people.

Faced with China’s increased assertiveness over rival territorial claims in the South China Sea, Vietnam has stepped up the modernization of its military with the purchase of six Russian-made submarines and a number of Russian fighter planes. It is also looking to acquire patrol boats from Japan and India.