Bird causes Tanzanian F-7 crash

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A Tanzania Air Force F-7TN fighter jet crashed last week after ingesting a bird on takeoff, resulting in injuries to the pilot, who managed to eject from the stricken aircraft.

The aircraft was taking off from Mwanza Airport around 9:40 am on February 27 when a bird was sucked into the engine, causing it to catch fire, according to the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF). The pilot, Major Peter Lyamunda, ejected, but suffered some leg injuries.

The aircraft came down in an open area and burnt out. No injuries or damage were caused on the ground.

The F-7TN was bearing Tanzania Air Force Command (TAFC) markings as the Tanzania People’s Defence Force Air Wing was recently renamed.

The TAFC had 14 Chengdu J-7s in service after swapping 12 old Chinese-made J-7 fighter aircraft with 14 new J-7Gs. The new fleet included 12 single-seat J-7G jets (designated F-7TN in Tanzanian service) and two dual seat J-7Ns (designated FT-7TN in Tanzania) which were ordered in 2009 and delivered in 2011.

The fighters, deployed at TPDF air bases in Mwanza and the capital Dar es Salaam, are armed with Type 30-1 30 mm cannon and are equipped with five hardpoints for rockets, missiles and bombs. The J-7 is an upgraded Chinese copy of the MiG-21. The J-7G features a Chinese-made KLJ-6E radar, which has replaced the French-made Selex Galileo Grifo 7 radar featured on earlier models of the J-7 such as those which were exported to Namibia and Nigeria in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

The Tanzanian Air Force has few combat aircraft, with six K-8 jet trainers being the only other armed fixed wing aircraft in its fleet. It recently emerged that the Air Force flies the Seabird Seeker reconnaissance/surveillance light aircraft.

However, Tanzania has modernised its landward forces and last year it emerged that the country’s military had received a range of new hardware from China, including Type 63A amphibious tanks, A100 multiple rocket launchers and Type 07PA self-propelled mortars.