IAF: Five crashes in the last 21 days

IAF: Five crashes in the last 21 days

A still from a video footage shows an aircraft in flames after two aircrafts of IAF's aerobatic team Surya Kiran crashed near the Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru, Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019, a day before the opening of the Aero India show. (PTI Photo)

In the last 21 days, Indian Air Force lost five of its aircraft, three of them are relatively new, and three pilots.

Tuesday's tragic accident involving two Hawk jet trainers in Bengaluru on the eve of Aero India was preceded by crashing of a Jaguar on January 28 near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh; a Mirage-2000 in Bengaluru on February 1 and a MiG-27 in Rajasthan on February 12.

While the Jaguar and MiG-27 pilots ejected safely, Sqn Ldr Sameer Abrol and Sqn Ldr Siddartha Negi flying the Mirage-2000 wasn't lucky. Neither was Wg Cdr Sahil Gandhi who was flying the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer as a part of the Suryakiran aerobatics team.

His two mates survived with injuries.

Three of these five aircraft that crashed – two Hawks and the Mirage-2000 – were relatively new. The Mirage 2000 was actually an upgraded aircraft that was on an acceptance sortie.

The series of accidents happen at a time when IAF's fighter aircraft acquisition programme is under scanner because of the political controversy on the purchase of two squadrons of Rafale aircraft from France.

Prior to the controversial French deal, the last fighter aircraft that IAF purchased was Su-30 MKI, the agreement for which was inked in November 1996 and the first aircraft was inducted in 2002. All other fighter jets being flown by the IAF were purchased in the 1970s and 1980s.