Crashes Cripple Indian Already Inadequate Fighter Jet Strength Over Last 3 Years
Already short of more than 200 fighter jets from the required strength, the Indian defense ministry revelation that 37 fighter jet and helicopters were lost in accidents have further clouded the capability of Indian armed forces to tackle a hypothetical two-front attack by China and Pakistan.
New Delhi (Sputnik) – The Indian defense ministry revelation comes in the backdrop of the standoff between India and China in the Doklam plateau of Bhutan. A few days ago, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had said in an interview that the IAF does not have the required fighter jets to fight a full-spectrum war.
"37 fighters and defense aircraft have crashed during the last three years in which 55 people were killed," Subhash Bhamre, India's Minister of State for Defense told the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament. Bhamre provided details of the accidents where IAF lost 24 planes and five helicopters in the last three years.
Last year, a parliamentary panel report said that the IAF is now operating at its lowest combat strength in more than a decade. It is down to 33 squadrons (comprising 16-18 planes each) against a mandated 42 squadrons needed for simultaneous and collusive two-front war scenario with Pakistan and China.
"The main reasons for these accidents were human error and technical defect," Bhamre said. In the absence of suitable replacement of aging MiG aircraft, the IAF is continuing with 11 squadrons of MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft which are scheduled to retire by 2024 on completion of their total technical life.
The government says that decision to phase out aging aircraft including helicopters would only be taken in the backdrop of national security/strategic objectives and operational requirements of the defense forces.
"Indian Air Force (IAF) had upgraded MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft as a part of obsolescence management so that they remain relevant and contemporary. MiG-29 aircraft are also being upgraded in a phased manner. These mid-life upgrades enable the aircraft to improve combat potential and operational capability," Bhamre said in Parliament.
The IAF expects relief from 2019 when state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is expected to produce 16 Tejas per year at its factory.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|