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The Indian Air Force is losing fighter jets faster than they can be bought

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Twenty-nine accidents involving IAF aircraft were reported between 2014 and July 2017. Nine pilots died in the accidents. 

New Delhi: The first stage of a lengthy procurement process for fighter jets ends Friday for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The force is desperately short of fighters, with its squadron strength depleting faster than planes can be bought.

The IAF currently has 31 squadrons of fighter aircraft, a far cry from its authorised strength of 42 to meet the government’s operational directive to be prepared for a two-front (China and Pakistan) war.

More than 30 military aircraft accidents have taken place in the last four years. Just this year, there has been at least one crash of a military aircraft every month.

As the IAF begins vetting the responses to its request for information (RFI), here is a look at recent crashes involving military aircraft:

Indian Navy MiG-29K – 3 January

The pilot had to abort a training sortie while take-off as the aircraft veered off the runway and caught fire at the Naval air station in Goa.

IAF Microlight – 15 February

Two pilots died as an IAF Microlight Virus crashed soon after taking off from the IAF station at Jorhat, Assam, for a routine sortie.

IAF Hawk MK 132 – 20 March

An Indian Air Force Hawk Mk 132 aircraft crashed after taking off from the station at Kalaikunda, West Bengal, for a routine training mission. The pilot ejected safely.

IAF Mi-17 V5 – 3 April

An Indian Air Force Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed near Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, while on government duty. The four crewmen on board survived.

IAF Cheetah – 23 May

An Indian Air Force Cheetah helicopter crash-landed during a routine sortie from Jammu to Natha Top. Two crewmen and two passengers on board were rescued safely.

IAF Jaguar – 5 June 2018

An Indian Air Force Jaguar aircraft on a routine sortie crashed over Kutch, killing the pilot, Air Commodore Sanjai Chauhan.

Scary figures

As many as 29 accidents involving IAF aircraft were reported between 2014 and July 2017, according to junior defence minister Subhash Bhamre’s reply to a question in Parliament last August. Nine pilots were killed in the accidents.

In October 2017, a deadly accident north of Tawang, involving the IAF’s Mi-17 V5 helicopter, killed the five IAF and two Army personnel on board. A month later, an IAF Kiran MK-IA, a trainer aircraft, crashed near Hakimpet, Telangana, minutes into the flight, but there were no casualties.

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  1. India has become more adept with every passing year since 1949 at fighting a war of attrition against itself as predicated by its Social Engineering, Corruption fostering Constitution, laws, judiciary and governance.

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