Lithuania’s defence ministry has released fresh details about the 30 August incident which led to two of its air force personnel ejecting from an Aero Vodochody L-39ZA trainer/light attack aircraft.
Both crew members were picked up using a Mil Mi-8 search and rescue helicopter and flown back to Siauliai air base to undergo medical checks, the defence ministry said. They had ejected from their aircraft following a mid-air collision involving a French air force Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter.
© Lithuanian defence ministry
Both crew members survived after ejecting from the stricken L-39
Speaking during a press briefing, army commander Lt Gen Arvydas Pocius said the NATO aircraft had been conducting scheduled training flights when the incident happened. The Lithuanian crew directed their aircraft to a secluded area before ejecting, he said, with the L-39’s wreckage located by a lake near Rėkyva.
The French Mirage was one of a detachment currently providing air policing cover for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from Siauliai. Its pilot landed the aircraft safely following the collision.
The Lithuanian defence ministry said its L-39ZA fleet, which has now been reduced to one operational example, had undergone an upgrade by Romanian company Aerostar in 2007. Modifications included the integration of replacement navigation and communications equipment, plus engine repairs.