Indian Air Chief has said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is still flying over four decades old aircraft when no one even drives cars that old.
“We are still flying MiG-21 which is 44-year-old but nobody driving cars of that vintage,” Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa said at a seminar on Tuesday on modernisation and indigenisation of the IAF when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was right beside him.
Questions have been raised about the four-decade-old fighter planes that remain the core of India’s defence fleet since the February 27 dogfight in which an IAF pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was captured after Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jets shot down two Indian jets after they intruded into its territory. He was handed over to Indian authorities at Wagah border on March 1.
According to Indian media, the aircraft had been in service for decades because of the overhauling using Indian-made components. “Over 95 per cent of components required in overhauling are made in India. The Russians are not flying the MiG but we are because we have overhaul facilities,” said the air chief.
Dhanoa said the basic version of the Russian fighter jet would be phased out this year. “Hopefully, I will fly the last sortie in September, subject to visibility.” The MiG-21 has seen several crashes over the years. Over the past 40 years, India has lost more than half of its MiG combat fleet of 872 aircraft, parliament was told recently.
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14 September, 2019