New Delhi: India has grounded its entire Sukhoi-30 fighter plane fleet and each aircraft is undergoing a thorough technical check. The fleet of about 200 twin-engine aircraft would be airborne only when they are cleared by the technical review committee.
The move came after a Su-30 fighter of the Indian Air Force was involved in an accident on October 14 in which both ejection seats had “fired” while the aircraft was coming in to land. The pilots were safe but the aircraft crashed about 20 km short of the runway. No loss of life or damage to property was reported. Incidentally, one of the two pilots was involved in a previous Su-30 crash too.
This was the fifth accident involving a SU-30 MKI since 2009 and the fleet has at least been grounded twice earlier. The grounded fleet represents almost a third of the country’s fighter plane fleet. IAF is now down to 34 combat squadrons, as against an authorized strength of 44. Each squadron has up to 18 fighter planes.