With plans to have a fleet of 300 SU-30s by the end of 2015, the latest crash of the country’s frontline fighter plane in Pune on Tuesday — the third in last two years — has become a serious cause of concern for the “surprised” Defence Ministry. The Ministry has now decided to seek Russia’s help to sort out problems, if any, dogging the fighter jet even as a Court of Inquiry has been ordered into the accident and all the 130 Su-30s in the IAF inventory have been temporarily grounded to find out the exact reason for the crash.
Incidentally, nine crashes involving IAF planes have taken place this year including five MIG-21s, two Jaguars and one MIG-29 besides the SU-30.
MoS for Defence MM Pallam Raju said, “I am surprised that an aircraft of this type has crashed. We will certainly look into the reasons for this.” Defence Minister AK Antony is also likely to hold a flight safety review with the IAF top brass soon in the wake of this crash. The two earlier crashes involving the SU-30 MKI were in 2009 in Rajasthan.
All the four air bases — Pune, Bareilly, Jhabua and Tezpur — from where this state-of-the-art twin-engine and two-seater plane costing more than Rs 200 crore a piece suspended flying operations.
India at present has six squadrons of Su-30s and Russia is the original manufacturer of the planes. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is now manufacturing these planes and the plane which crashed near Pune came out from the PSU’s factory in 2009.
Taking a serious view of the mishaps, Antony had last month held a flight safety review with the IAF top brass.
Sources said IAF engineers were examining the wreckage of the plane in Pune to find out the cause and if it was found that a maintenance lapse led to the crash then flying operations could resume shortly. However, if there was a serious technical snag, then the IAF would make a comprehensive examination of the entire fleet, they said adding there was no time frame fixed for the ongoing technical review.
-via Daily Pioneer