It was a nightmarish Wednesday for the Indian Air Force, which the witnessed crashing of its Su-30 MKI combat jet and a Chetak helicopter within a gap of a few hours.
While the fighter aircraft crashed near the Utarlai air base in Barmer district of Rajasthan in the afternoon, a Chetak helicopter toppled near Allahabad earlier in the morning after the pilots touched down on an uneven ground, an IAF official said.
Three villagers were injured in the Barmer incident.
This is the seventh crash of the Su-30 MKI fighters in the past eight years.
Since 2009, every alternate year saw going down of these mighty birds that are the mainstay of the IAF. Close to 240 Su-30 MKIs are in service at the moment.
“A Su-30 aircraft of the IAF crashed near the Utarlai airbase of Barmer in Rajasthan on Wednesday afternoon while on a routine sortie. Both pilots ejected safely,” the official said.
An investigation is in progress to identify the reasons behind the crash.
In the morning, a Chetak helicopter developed technical snags after taking off from the Bamrauli air base in Allahabad. After the pilots landed the rotor craft on an uneven land, it toppled. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to find out the cause.
7 accidents every year
Since 2007-08, on an average, the IAF witnessed more than seven accidents every year. With 14 accidents, the worst year was 2009-10. There were 65 crashes in five years between 2007-08 and 2011-12, after which the situation improved slightly.
In the next five years, the number of accidents touched double digits only in 2014-15 and 2016-17. A recent report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee expressed concern on flight safety due to obsolescence issues in the IAF.
Chetak helicopters are of 1960s vintage, but the Indian military is still flying them in the absence of a replacement.
The Su-30 MKI crashes, on the other hand, are a matter of concern for the IAF that relies on these Russian-origin war planes to claim air superiority. Three of the five accidents were caused by the flaws in the fly-by-wire system, while investigations are yet to completed in two other cases.