Experts recovering equipment from the crash site at the HAL Airport

The two-seat Mirage 2000 fighter of the Indian Air Force that crashed on Friday at the HAL Airport at Bangalore was on an acceptance sortie after being upgraded by HAL

A defence official said the pilots made a bid to eject but were caught in the flames as the plane crashed with a huge explosion. "This morning, a Mirage 2000 trainer aircraft on an acceptance sortie after upgrade crashed at the HAL Airport, Bangalore," a defence public relation officer said in a statement.

"Both occupants sustained fatal injuries. Further details are awaited. Investigation into the cause of accident is being ordered," he added.

The pilots were identified as Squadron Leader Samir Abrol and Squadron Leader Siddhartha Negi, both from Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment. A police official said, "the body of one the pilots was completely charred while the second pilot was rushed to the Command hospital." Later, the second pilot succumbed to his injuries, the official said.

An eyewitness said the Mirage 2000 went up in flames as it crashed with an explosion and thick smoke billowed from the spot, leaving passersby and residents living around the airport in shock.

Soon, firefighters and ground staff at the airport swung into action to douse the flames and tried to bring out the pilots.

India had signed a deal with France in 2011, valued at $2.4 billion, to upgrade 51 Mirage 2000 fighters, which were purchased in the 1980s, with new electronics and weapon systems. The Mirage 2000 has long been regarded as being among the most reliable aircraft in the IAF. In January, media reports quoted Indian Air Force officials as saying that the upgrade of the Mirage 2000 fleet by HAL was running behind schedule.