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10 crashes, 11 aircraft lost, 22 killed — the year of Balakot has been a bloody one for IAF

The latest aircraft the Indian Air Force lost in 2019 is a Su-30 MKI fighter jet that crashed in paddy fields near Tezpur, Assam, Thursday night.

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New Delhi: Despite the successful operation in Balakot, 2019 is already one of the bloodiest years of the Indian Air Force till now — with 22 personnel losing their life in as many as 10 crashes involving 11 aircraft.

The latest in the series was Indian’s frontline fighter aircraft Su-30 MKI, which crashed in paddy fields near Assam’s Tezpur, minutes after taking off Thursday night.

While both the pilots ejected and managed to escape, one of them has suffered serious injuries that will not allow him to fly again.

The year 2019 should have been a year full of glory for the IAF because it successfully carried out the Balakot airstrike in Pakistan — the first cross-LoC operations since the 1965 war — in the aftermath of the 14 February Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF personnel and escalated tensions between the two countries.

The aircraft crashes have dealt a severe blow to the IAF.

The list of crashes

The year started off with a Jaguar fighter aircraft crashing in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district on 28 January. The plane crashed minutes after taking off for a routine training mission from the Gorakhpur air force station. The pilot managed to eject safely.

Sources had then said that the pilot had sensed a mechanical failure and hence turned it away from the civilian population area before ejecting.

Graphic: Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint
Graphic: Arindam Mukherjee | ThePrint

The next month – February – turned out to be a bitter month despite the Balakot airstrikes.

On 1 February, an upgraded Mirage 2000 aircraft crashed while undergoing a flight acceptance trial. The crash led to the death of both the pilots.

On 12 February, a MiG-27 aircraft crashed near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. The pilot managed to eject safely.

This was followed by the 19 February crash of the two Hawk aircraft of IAF’s aerobatic team Surya Kiran near Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru, a day before the opening of the Aero India show.

While two pilots managed to eject safely, one was killed.

On 26 February, the IAF successfully struck camps of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot.

However, the next day, on 27 February, the IAF came under attack from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). While the IAF shot down an F-16 of the Pakistan, a MiG-21 was also brought down by the PAF.

But the more tragic fact was that about 100-km away from the dogfight, an incoming Mi-17 V5 chopper of the IAF was shot down in friendly fire, killing six service personnel and one civilian on the ground.

The next month, in March, the IAF lost two aircraft. On 8 March, a MiG-21 crashed in Rajastha’s Bikaner district after a bird-hit. The pilot managed to eject safely.

On 31 March, another MiG-27 aircraft crashed near Jodhpur. The pilot managed to eject safely after he sensed glitches in the engine. The jet had taken off from Utarlai air force base and crashed in Sirohi district, around 120 km south of Jodhpur.

Three months later on 3 June, an AN-32 transport aircraft on way to Mechuka advanced landing ground near China border from Jorhat, Assam, crashed within 33 minutes of taking off.

Following the incident, the IAF had launched a massive search to trace the missing aircraft, but rescue operation was badly hit due to rough weather conditions.

After several days of search, the wreckage was finally spotted and all the 13 crew members were declared dead.

Also read: Pakistani military plane that crashed was used for surveillance after Balakot strikes


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  1. Well, it is Indian’s habit to create a lie and then start to believe in their lies like it is a Gospel truth.
    Balakot strikes, if they can be call strikes, were utter failure for Indian. Apart from killing few trees and a crow, they didn’t achieve much.
    As for 300+ killed fairy tale , there had been no international takers for Indian feeble.

    Lets talk about PAF response on 27th February 2019, a real surgical strike, bravely in the broad day light.

    1- Confirmed kill of Bison. Pilot captured.
    2- Second kill of Su 30 MKi. Indians hiding the kill but declared both pilots killed in car accident a week later. Convenient concealment of truth.
    3- One Mi 17 Heli downed from friendly fire 6 killed. The Heli was S & R mission to check on Su 30s pilots. Otherwise why would it be flying during an airstrike by PAF !!
    4- 6 targets locked by PAF then released and nearby empty spaces bombed.
    5- As a proof , video recording shown to the world. In your face, undeniable proof, not feeble tales.

    27th February 2019 was “The Real Surgical Strike” not an Indian Bollywood fake theme thriller.

  2. operation balakot was successful?? what a joke! the terrorist group camps didn’t even exist there in the first place, which means the airstrike that was carried by the indian airforce only destroyed trees not terrorists. they assumed an abandoned local school to be a jaish e mohammad terror camp. hahahahah. i feel pity for RAW for providing such accurate information. and as far as a pakistani F-16 jet was shot as claimed by india. india had no proofs, neither about killing jaish e mohammad terrorists and neither about the pakistani F-16 jet that was shot down by the indian airforce. and not only the MIG-29 was shot by the pakistani airforce, even a SU-30 was shot down by the pakistani pilots. the MIG-29 landed in Azas kashmir (pakistan) while the SU-30 crash landed in jammu and kashmir (IOK), and there are proofs which you can get on the internet about both plane crashes. it was not only a bloody year for india, it was a year full of embarrassment for india in front of the international media. hence proved, never believe in the fake biased news of the BJP controlled indian media. plus this biased report is utter BULLSHIT!

  3. Mad India your aircraft MIG 21 was shot down by paf and abhinandhan was captured and u say it was a good year🤣🤣🤣 it is a glooooorrrrriooouuss year for paf not for iaf

  4. If this is a glorious year for Indian air Force. Imagine how a bad year would look like. Please report accurate losses.
    A su 30 was also shot down on the same day Abhinandan fell of his lousy aircraft.

  5. Bloody disgrace. IAF has never been a worthy enemy. Especially so under BJP, IAF has resorted to extreme lies. Even US air sources and their think tanks do not accept Indian claim of shooting down PAF F-16. And what about PAF strike force kicking IAD AD butt by engaging six targets successfully. Shame on all fake-news, war mongering, media person and hindu extremist parties

  6. Some people might like the article or hate the author for writing it. . Few are slamming print for uploading it … But the facts are facts ,one cannot deny we have lost so many aircrafts and men. We can’t hide the facts behind nationalism … It’s better we know where we are lagging and reform.. I have full faith in our MEN IN UNIFORM and salute them for their service towards the nation and people.

  7. Mr Rajiv how the hell you can say Airforce is just show off … And personal are looking. For job and salary. dunb idot people like you make our country shameful on enemy face… Defence force are sarificing there life everyday on line of duty. Weather it’s is natural clamity or enemy action forces are making supreme sacrifice for citizen of India..

  8. Such a worrisome scenario does not augur well for the image of the nation. It seems that the poor maintenance/servicing of the IAF planes may be real culprit. So the need of the hour could be to harness the requisite skill and technical up gradation lest things virtually go out of hand. Let there be a Zero Tolerrance Policy on this count.

  9. Truth always hurts especially to Feku bhakts . So The Print must become fake news peddler like BJP prestitutes

  10. Very objective analysis by the print….Indian airforce is rubbish and only show off…and cheap people glorifying them…pilots and IAF men are interested in keeping their jobs and perks….only

    • Lol… There are other jobs which offers better pay package and better perks … And before calling IAF rubbish think twice if you have the guts to sit in the cockpit any fighter jet .. let say mig 21 …

  11. आतापर्यंत आपण mig aircraft ना दोष देत होतो .पण jaguar, hawk, suryakiran, आणि जगातील शक्तिशाली sukhoi 30 mki ही अत्याधुनिक विमाने सुद्धा crash झाली आहेत .आपल्या देशात शिक्षणाचा बाजार चालू आहे . श्रीमंतांचीच मुले पायलट होतात. हे सत्य आहे . मग प्रश्न ऊरतो की खरच फक्त श्रीमंत मुलेच हुशार असतात ? सर्व दोष विमानांना देण्यापेक्षा आपले पायलट किती योग्य आहेत हे पण चौकशी करायला हवी. Economically weak but tallented students ना भर्ती करा .

  12. I want to slap the writer right across their face for writing such a negative lousy article, people like you only know how to degrade and belittle your own country, you are a garbage writer with minimal sense and just know how to write shit about the people who work hard to protect our country so dumb fcuk people like you have a safe and sound sleep at night.
    These so called failure people are the pride of our nation, and people like you just know how to find nooks and cracks so you can pin point it and magnify the things gone wrong!!!
    Balakot was a huge success and a big movement for our country, we showed power and strength, we showed that we will not tolerate anymore and we will fight back.

    All you do is cower behind your laptop screen with your fat little hands and type whatever negative shit comes to you for getting views and attention. This is a garbage strategy to get attention of people and belittle the Indian army and the nation. People like you should be banished out of the country. May all the hatred come to you and may you go through the depths of negativity you are trying to spread and succumb into your own pile of negative shit.

    • Sorry it is the media full of negatively spreading the correct messages in negative way, classic example is the current subject this is a patriotic media god bless all

  13. Arguments will never end. Because everyone is trying to understand rocket science without studying science.. A person with good commonsense can easily understand by analyzing facts data and details, events. But instead of analyzing we do shit.. Blaming each other


  15. Once again I say this, developed countries don’t put their pilots in harms way everyday, but in this country except pilots of armed forces who every day fly flying coffins no one else is put in harms way, I remember way back in 1982 at sonamrg in j&k I happened to meet a fighter pilot of RAF when he saw Dakota and packet aircraft along with a MI 4 heptr he remarked, if my country pays me 1000 pounds per week I won’t touch it, tell a politician to fly these or best tell them to send their children into armed forces and equipment would improve in a jiffy.

  16. It is really shameful. This is the reason why Rang de Basanti was made. India me deshbhakt se zyada deshdrohi milta hai.

  17. The Print, entire India knows your hypocrisy. Stop it, please. In the process to embarrass BJP, this hypocrite media house ends up insulting India. These are the only people that cry that there’s no freedom of speech. Like, seriously? You people are exploiting the freedom of speech like no one else. Stop it before it’s too late.

  18. I have followed Shekar Gupta’s editorials in The Indian Express for decades. His Cut The Clutter is very incisive but bad sound makes it a pain to listen. Surely those who he has selected or groomed shall also be dispassionate and clinical in their articles.

  19. The Print should change their name to The Negative.

    Shame on such reporting and still you are portraiting negatively under hidden agenda of portraiting centre govt as failure.

    Houses like The Print thought that only they knows everything and rest public is a fool.

    I think The Print should introspect and read carefully all the comments of worthy common man.

  20. I have been the part of iaf. A lot of correction is required to make the force effective. These flying accidents show lack of efficiency and sense of irresponsibility with unaccountability. A little firmness is required to zero on the fault and remedy on the part of Human Error.

  21. It’s to the credit to the pilots of IAF and the support staff who ensure the outdated aircrafts are flying. Still recollect IAF flying Fairchild Packet aircrafts till the eighties when all other airforces in the world had discarded.

  22. Let’s analyze 1 pointwise analysis of the failures of iaf .. 2 linking it to balakot strikes ? Why 3 the writer is diluting our best strategy for curbing terrorisam .. why not how much we lose to terrorisam and lost of 41900 personnel in Kashmir alone isnt included .. as usual readers we need to look at intentions .. if ever writer wanted to focus on iaf loses that’s also not matter .. we are proud and concerned about our soldiers and IAF personnel .. salute to Indian government and IAF which will come out of this blue and home hitting of reporters whose intentions are purposely not clear

    • Balakot was a disaster. Pulwama was a bigger disaster. URI and Pathankot were a disgrace. Balakot was a blank with some disused buildings bombed and not properly at that. No casualties. And dont forget they shot down an indian aircraft

      A Lot of correction is required. Course correction as well.

    • Negative…… People with negative mind sets… Cannot run the business…

      U will go with loss.. Sure

  23. This article is incomplete. Balakot strikes still fail to prove a single causality on Pakistan side, even international experts negate Indian claims. On 27th Feb PAF kill is confirm but no shred of proof that F16 was shot down. Even USA refuted Indian claim by counting all Pakistani F16s. Above all no mention PAF str8kes on Indian bases.

    • The “even international experts” you referred to was one 21 year old from Australia; this was the first time he was looking at a bomb site and estimating it’s effectiveness.
      You guys have given up on trying to sound objective.

  24. 15-20 years old vehicles are not permitted to ply on roads but a fighter is fit to fly even it’s more than four decades old? We must be thankful of IAF personnel (in particular men in uniform) that these machines are flying and safeguarding the Indian airspace. The Print has published one sided history. I am bound with limitations to pen down more.

  25. Lousy Article. A mere compilation of crash events juxtaposed with a successful mission carried out by IAF. Deliberate attempt to water down the humongous achievement of IAF by pointing out other unfortunate incidents that happened during the year. These are the people who see the glass half full…. chronic cynics..and more so after the current dispensation came into power. These people masquerading as journalists/intellectuals are the ones who will nit-pick and try to magnify trivial/small things out of proportion to spoil the larger picture. They are the marginalised opinion makers in current context who have to survive on nit-picking to assuage their pint sized egos.

    We will sit up and take notice of you research and write how has been the trend of such incidents over a long time frame, how does IAF fare with other countries, what are the issues that it faces and the root causes and what has been done/not done to address them.

    Don’t waste readers time by dishing out lousy articles that are worthy of a tip that can just get you a cutting chai at a tapri.

  26. Normally the ruling dispensation reports only the success in operations. The gloomy side is never coming to light. Congratulations to ThePrint for reporting the flipside of the story. Rulers win elections on the wrong information.

  27. The columnist could study comparative figures for the USAF, which has a much larger fleet of airctaft. Add to that carrier borne operations, where the element of risk is greater. If the IAF’s losses are much higher than global norms, that could not be due to pilot error. It means pilots are being put in harm’s way by flying machines that are not a hundred per cent. My heart skips a beat when the IAF chief takes off in a MiG 21 to show that all is well.

    • YES.”If the IAF’s losses are much higher than global norms, that could not be due to pilot error. It means pilots are being put in harm’s way by flying machines that are not a hundred per cent sure”

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