A piece of wreckage recovered by locals at Thirot village, in tribal Lahaul and Spiti district, belongs to the MiG-29 fighter aircraft that crashed on Tuesday night, the IAF said.
The entire combat aircraft, however, remains to be traced. "Some locals sighted a part of the wreckage in high altitude areas of Thirot and IAF experts matched these with the MiG-29 that crashed. The entire aircraft, however, is yet to be traced," Lahaul and Spiti Deputy Commissioner Rajeev Shankar said.
"The search operation is still on and a team of 80 trekkers from the army and IAF have conducted a ground survey of Chokhang hills, near which the aircraft purportedly crashed," said Squadron Leader Priya Joshi, spokesperson for IAF's Western Air Command.
DSP Khajana Ram said a 12-member police team also conducted a recce.
"Since the rocky hills are very steep and slippery due to snowfall, the combing operation was abandoned in the day.
Moreover, the search was hampered by extreme cold conditions. The combined search by IAF and Army will be resumed on Saturday," he said.
The pilot, who had taken off from Adampur near Jalandhar [ Images ] in Punjab [ Images ] on Tuesday night, was on night flying training when the plane crashed in the high mountains of Lahaul and Spiti district, adjoining Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ].