In a stark reminder of the poor squadron health in the Indian Air Force, a Jaguar fight plane crashed in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar today. The plane had taken off from Gorakhpur, news agency ANI said. However, the pilot ejected safely using a parachute. “Today morning, a Jaguar aircraft while on a routine mission from Gorakhpur, crashed. Pilot ejected safely. A court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the accident,” the air force said in a statement .
Last year, an IAF pilot was killed after a Jaguar crashed in Gujarat’s Kutch in June. On March 14 last year, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre had told Parliament that there were five crashes of IAF aircraft in 2017-2018, and 31 crashes in four years. The force has an estimated 600 fighter jets across 31 squadrons. According to a report, there were 11 crashes noted in 2018. The old inventory of the Air Force needs an urgent upgrade.
The crash comes after 12-day war game in Jodhpur last year. On December 10, 2018, the Indian and Russian air forces began a 12-day war game in Jodhpur with an aim to enhance their operational coordination. The exercise ‘Aviaindra’ was very unique as the Russian Air Force did not bring its assets and took part in the drill using Indian platforms, an IAF official had said. The first edition of the exercise was held in 2014.
Interestingly, most of the fighter jets used by the Indian Air Force are of Russian origin, and already both the air forces have achieved significant levels of inter-operability, said the official.
Russia has been a major partner of India in the defence sector and the cooperation has been steadily growing further. In October last year, India and Russia held a 10-day mega war game involving their armies, navies and air forces for the first time to further ramp up military ties.
The exercise Indra, which took place in Russia, primarily focused on achieving coordination between forces of the two countries in a tri-services integrated theatre command scenario.
It was for the first time, India participate in a tri-services exercise with a foreign country with a large-scale participation by the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.