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[In brief] Crash of a Romanian Mig 21 and a Puma helicopter in the Dobrogea near the Black Sea. 8 deaths (v2)

(B2) This Wednesday (March 2) is a sad day for the Romanian air forces and especially those of the 57th air base of Mihail Kogălniceanu. A base where American soldiers are stationed as well as German Eurofighter planes and where French soldiers are due to arrive.

In quick succession two planes crashed

A missing Mig 21

First of all, a MiG 21 LanceR plane from the 86th air base (from Borcea in the Călărași department) lost its radio connection with the control tower, and disappeared from the radar, around 20 p.m., in an area between the localities of Cogealac and Gura Dobrogei near the Black Sea. The plane had just taken off ten minutes earlier from Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base with another Mig-21 plane for an air patrol mission over the Dobrogea Gorge. Search and rescue operations were launched immediately, Defense Minister Vasîle Dincu said on his Facebook account.

The rescue helicopter also crashes

An IAR-330 Puma helicopter therefore took off urgently towards the possible impact zone. But, in turn, this helicopter crashed to the ground in the Gura Dobrogei region, in the Constanta department. He lost radio connection with the base around 20:44 p.m. All seven soldiers on board died. In addition to the five crew members, two sea rescuers were also on board. The youngest was 27 years old. The helicopter pilot, Lieutenant Commander Bogdan Florin, was a seasoned pilot, at 41 years old, on the job since 2003, he had accumulated more than 1500 hours according to the romanian press.

A 31-year-old pilot

The Mig21 pilot was found dead overnight. His plane was located near the town of Cogealac, in an uninhabited area », Specifies the minister. This is Costinel Iosif Niță, 31 years old, married without children. Pilot in Air Squadron 861 at Air Base 86 in Borcea, since 2014, he has accumulated more than 570 flight hours, including approximately 420 hours on the MiG-21.

Part of the Romanian fleet grounded

All aircraft of the type involved in the two crashes, that is to say the MiG-21 LanceR and IAR 330 Puma helicopters, are banned from flying, grounded. Until the circumstances of the two crashes are clarified. The weather conditions were not good last night, according to the Romanian press.

Ongoing investigation

A commission from the Air Force General Staff and the military prosecutor's office of the Constanta military court was dispatched to investigate the accident scene. There is nothing to link it (for the moment) to the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The accident area is 60 km from the southern border of Ukraine.

Part of the Romanian fleet grounded

This Thursday, March 3, will be a day of mourning in all military units in Romania or abroad.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Updated Thursday March 3 8am with latest developments

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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