NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Indian fighter jet crashed on Friday (March 8) in desert close to the border with Pakistan - not after a dogfight with enemy planes but after a collision with a bird, the air force said.
The ageing Russian-made MiG-21 jet, which crash with some regularity, was on a routine sortie in western Rajasthan state when Friday's accident happened. The pilot ejected safely.
"Initial inputs indicate the likely cause of accident as bird hit after take off," the Indian Air Force said in a statement.
India carried out air strikes inside Pakistan on Feb 26 after 40 paramilitary soldiers died in a suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
It was the first time since 1971 that India hit territory beyond Kashmir.
The next day Pakistani and Indian planes engaged in a dogfight over Kashmir. India said one of its aircraft was shot down - Pakistan said two - and its pilot captured by Pakistan's military.
India said it shot down a Pakistani plane but Islamabad denied this.
Pakistan returned the pilot on March 1, easing tensions, but both sides have continued to fire shells and mortar over the de-facto border that divides Indian and Pakistani Kashmir.
Both countries are maintaining a tight vigil in the skies and conducting frequent fly-overs of Kashmir.
India shot down a Pakistani military drone on Monday, media reports said.
Pakistan said on Tuesday that it stopped an Indian submarine from entering its waters.