New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has lost 999 aircraft in crashes since 1970 and 39 percent of these accidents occurred due to pilot error, a parliamentary panel was informed by the defense ministry.
That would mean the IAF has so far lost around 1,000 planes, including the latest MiG-21 crash that was reported Tuesday.
The IAF has also lost over 50 percent of its 946 MiG-series Soviet-origin fighter planes in air crashes.
“The ministry, in a written note, has furnished the accident data of the IAF since 1970. The data indicates that 999 aircraft have met with accidents so far,” the committee’s report on budgetary demands for grants 2011-12 submitted to the Lok Sabha (Indian Lower House of Parliament) Wednesday said.
Of the 999 accidents, 12 cases were currently under investigation. “Of the rest 987 cases, in as many as 388 cases the reason is human error by the air crew,” the report said.
Another 39.5 percent air crashes took place due to technical defect in the aircraft and another 1.6 percent were due to servicing error on the aircraft. Only nine percent of the air crashes were caused by bird hit and even lesser — 0.6 percent — were caused by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) error.
In the case of MiG-series aircraft, “as per information made available to the committee, 476 MiG aircraft so far have met with accidents and the remaining fleet is 470 MiG aircraft,” the report said.
The high rate of accidents, the committee noted, was caused by technical defects pertaining to the old technology of the aircraft. India got its first supersonic combat jet, the Soviet-era MiG-21s, in early 1960s.
“Problems associated with vintage technology, especially aero engine met function, in MiG-21 and MiG-27 are more pronounced,” the report said.
“There is a program of phasing out and inducting new aircraft…these aeroplanes are 40 years old. They have been phased out of the Russian Air Force, like MiG-27. We are the only air force in the world which is flying this aircraft now,” the defense secretary had informed the committee.
India is in the final stages of signing a $10.4 billion contract with either European consortium EADS for its Eurofighter Typhoons or French firm Dassault’s Rafales for supply of 126 medium multi-role combat jets for the IAF to replace the MiG-series planes.