Friday, June 19, 2009

India's agony with MiG-21's continue

By: Subhadeep Bhatttacharjee

In India's military aviation the name MiG 21 has become synonymous to crashes. In yet another incident the fighter which has been nicknamed as the 'Flying Coffin' crashed shortly after take off from Chabua Air Force Base in Upper Assam. The pilot of the aircraft ejected to safety minutes before the crash. The initial reports said that a technical snag might have caused the crash. This crash takes the toll of MiG-21 crashes in the year to 6 which translates a crash per month for the Indian Air Force.

A routine inquiry has been ordered to find out the reasons for the crash. The latest crash comes at a time when many young pilots are undergoing training on the newly inducted Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers. It has long been argued one of the primary reasons of MiG crashes had been the poor training given to the young pilots where they were trained in sub-sonic Kiran aircraft to fly the super-sonic MiGs.

With every crash questions are raised on the air worthiness of the MiG-21 which comprise the bulk of India's fighter aircraft. Most of these third-generation jet fighters which were inducted into the Indian Air Force in the 60s and 70s have exceeded their service life but are being flown after regular overhauls to extend their service life. The IAF is trying to slowly phasing out the older MiG-21 variants like Type-77, Type-96 and Type-75 Bis. Interestingly the aircraft involved in the recent crash was a Type-77.

The repeated delay in the development of the indigenously built LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) has meant that the IAF has been unable to phase out the ageing MiGs in time. These third generation aircrafts are being pushed beyond their service life. The problems with the crashes have been compounded by their poor maintenance facility in the country and import of cheap spare parts from countries like Ukraine.

Although the fourth largest Air Force in the world boasts of having the advanced Sukhoi-30 aircraft in a war like situation it is the MiG-21s which will decide the outcome. Considering the hostile neighbourhood we are in with Pakistan and China regular taking hostile stand against us the Government needs to show more seriousness towards this issue. In a modern day warfare its the Air Force which may be the deciding factor. In a war our pilots should have the sole responsibility of fighting the enemy and not their own machines.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP