A Sukhoi Su-30 multi-role fighter aircraft from the Indian Air Force (IAF) has crashed at Theoor village near Pune city, India.

The aircraft was on a routine training mission, and went down into a sugarcane field nearly 20km from Pune Airbase.

Both the pilot and the co-pilot safely ejected themselves from the aircraft, and were taken to a hospital by the IAF officials.

Pune Rural Police superintendent Manoj Lohiya was quoted by Pune Mirror as saying: "The pilot-in-command of the aircraft, Wing Commander S V Moonje, and his co-pilot Flying Officer Anup Kumar, discovered a snag in the fighter jet while flying and decided to eject themselves from it, as it was not going to be possible to maintain its flight level.

"An emergency crash landing was made after spotting a safe site in the sugarcane field."

The crash broke the aircraft into two pieces, but did not lead to loss of life or damage to property.

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Meanwhile, the Indian Defence Ministry has ordered a court of inquiry to investigate the cause behind the mishap.

Indian Air Force spokeswoman wing commander Rochelle D’Silva said: "As of now, it seems to have been a technical fault."

"An emergency crash landing was made after spotting a safe site in the sugarcane field."

This is the second mishap involving an Su-30 fighter in Pune. One fighter crashed in the Wade-Bholai village near Pune in December 2011.

The crash comes days after IAF chief air chief marshal Arup Raha revealed that the air force was experiencing certain problems with its frontline Su-30 MKI fighter fleet, The Asian Agereported.

Though Raha refused to share any details, local media reports indicate that the aircraft were encountering mid-air engine failures.

Also known as Lohegaon airbase, Pune airbase currently has three SU-30 MKI squadrons, Lightning, Rhinos and Lions.

Manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics under licence from Sukhoi, the Su-30MKI is a long-range air superiority fighter designed to conduct a wide-range of air combat and ground-attack missions in all weather conditions.

Image: An Indian Air Force’s Su-30MKI fighter at Lajes Field, Portugal. Photo: courtesy of 1st Lt George Tobias.

Defence Technology