Indian Paper Planes: The newest “MiG” disasterFebruary 24, 2010
The Indian “Air-Power”:
- Indian Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), continues to falter even after 25 years
- World Record: 500th Flying coffin crashes
- More Duds: The fiasco of the IAFs Mig 29s
The Indian Air Force has ‘grounded’ its fleet of over 100 MiG-27 ground attack fighters for mandatory checks following a fatal crash in West Bengal last week.
A senior IAF official said the aircraft would not be taking part in the Air Force’s biggest ever fire power display, Vayu Shakti-2010, aimed at highlighting its operational and precision strike capabilities by day, dusk and night at the Pokhran ranges on February 28.
The IAF has lost 12 MiG-27 fighter planes since January 2001.
IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal PV Naik said the latest MiG-27 crash might have been caused by a failure of the low-pressure turbine blades.
Asked if the combat maneouvres were aimed at sending a message to Pakistan, he said, “Our demonstration is intended to tell the people of our country, the capability of the IAF, its skills and strategic reach to protect the skies and national interest.”
In yet another crash in IAF, a MiG-21 fighter jet went down near Bagdogra in West Bengal minutes after take-off on Friday afternoon. The pilot, fortunately, managed to eject safely.
While the court of inquiry will establish the exact reason behind the crash, which comes soon after a MiG-27 pilot was killed after his fighter crashed near the Hashimara airbase on Tuesday, preliminary reports said `a technical snag’ led to the accident on Friday.
“The pilot, Squadron Leader Rahul Tiwari, had taken off from Bagdogra airbase on the MiG-21 but within minutes, at about 3.40 pm, reported trouble in the aircraft and ejected,” said an official.
Though some years ago there was a remarkable turnaround in IAF’s high crash rate, which earlier saw over 700 crashes since 1970, killing around 180 pilots and scores of civilians on the ground, a spate of crashes has taken place in recent months.
The aging MiG variants, which constitute the bulk of India’s combat fleet, have of course been the main culprits. The single-engined MiG-21s, in particular, have a horrifying track-record. Of the 793 MiG-21s inducted into IAF since 1963, over 340 have been lost in accidents.
Coupled with the several design limitations in MiG-21s due to their 1960s and 1970s vintage, this was due to shoddy maintenance, poor quality control of spares and inadequate training to rookie pilots. IAF, on its part, is now progressively phasing out older MiG-21 variants like Type-77, Type-96 and Type-75 Bis. On the other hand, it has gone in for an upgrade of 125 MiG-21s into `Bisons’, which will be operated till at least 2020.