The IAF currently has 31 squadrons of fighter aircraft, a far cry from its authorised strength of 42 to meet the government’s operational directive to be prepared for a two-front (China and Pakistan) war.
More than 30 military aircraft accidents have taken place in the last four years. Just this year, there has been at least one crash of a military aircraft every month.
As the IAF begins vetting the responses to its request for information (RFI), here is a look at recent crashes involving military aircraft:
Indian Navy MiG-29K – 3 January
The pilot had to abort a training sortie while take-off as the aircraft veered off the runway and caught fire at the Naval air station in Goa.
IAF Microlight – 15 February
Two pilots died as an IAF Microlight Virus crashed soon after taking off from the IAF station at Jorhat, Assam, for a routine sortie.
IAF Hawk MK 132 – 20 March
An Indian Air Force Hawk Mk 132 aircraft crashed after taking off from the station at Kalaikunda, West Bengal, for a routine training mission. The pilot ejected safely.
IAF Mi-17 V5 – 3 April
An Indian Air Force Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed near Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, while on government duty. The four crewmen on board survived.
IAF Cheetah – 23 May
An Indian Air Force Cheetah helicopter crash-landed during a routine sortie from Jammu to Natha Top. Two crewmen and two passengers on board were rescued safely.
IAF Jaguar – 5 June 2018
An Indian Air Force Jaguar aircraft on a routine sortie crashed over Kutch, killing the pilot, Air Commodore Sanjai Chauhan.
Scary figures ::
As many as 29 accidents involving IAF aircraft were reported between 2014 and July 2017, according to junior defence minister Subhash Bhamre’s reply to a question in Parliament last August. Nine pilots were killed in the accidents.
In October 2017, a deadly accident north of Tawang, involving the IAF’s Mi-17 V5 helicopter, killed the five IAF and two Army personnel on board. A month later, an IAF Kiran MK-IA, a trainer aircraft, crashed near Hakimpet, Telangana, minutes into the flight, but there were no casualties.