NEW DELHI – Thirty-nine Indian military aircraft, including the MiG series, Sukhoi and various helicopters, have been lost in air crashes during the last three years, Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony said in parliament.
Of the aircraft lost, 21 were MiGs, including 12 MiG-21s. Thirteen service personnel were killed. The most recent crash was in July. (See chart p. 6.)
India, which currently uses mostly Soviet-built aircraft, has an accident rate of six-seven mishaps per 100,000 hr. flown (compared to four-five for all NATO air forces, according to an analyst.
Pilot error, technical defects and bird strikes were the major causes of the MiG-21 accidents. Pilots previously learned on subsonic trainers before flying MiG-21s.
Since the Soviet Union’s breakup, India has been struggling to get spare parts, which are often sourced from Eastern European suppliers.
Each air force aircraft accident is investigated by a court of inquiry, and remedial measures are undertaken accordingly to check for future recurrence.
Training enhancements to improve pilot skill, judgment and situational awareness are being pursued. The services also constantly interact with original equipment manufacturers, both indigenous and foreign, to overcome any technical defects, Antony said.
- Neelam Mathews