Thursday, November 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Technical faults behind MiG crashes: George
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27
Contrary to a recent assertion by Defence Minister George Fernandes that no technical defects had been found in the MiG fighter aircraft, the facts presented in Parliament point out that there has been a drastic increase in the number of MiG-21 aircraft accidents due to “technical defects”.

According to details given in a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, as many as 70 per cent of the MiG-21 crashes this year have been due to technical defects.

Of the 10 frontline combat aircraft which have gone down this year as many as seven crashed due to the reason listed above. Only three of the MiG-21s have crashed due to human error, that being of the aircrew.

These facts come in a stark contrast to a statement given by the Defence Minister just about a fortnight ago where he said the experts team, including the Russian technologists, who were here, had not found any defects so far in the MiG fighter aircraft.

“So far they (experts team) have not been able to pinpoint any defect which could be the cause of accidents,” the minister had said while talking to reporters after a MiG-21, type-69 aircraft, had crashed near Bagdogra.

Sources here said in fact the recent decision of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to call in Russian experts and to seek the original design of the MiG-21 fighter aircraft from its Russian manufacturers was as a result of the drastic increase in the number of crashes which the country’s frontline combat jets had seen due to “technical defects”.

The figure of seven aircraft going down due to technical defects this year is the highest in the past six years.

The IAF has been suspecting a fault in the auxiliary fuel supply system of the MiG-21 aircraft and as a result of which it has sought the original designs of the aircraft from its manufacturer.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) today also categorically stated that no second-hand spares for the Russian fighters had been purchased by the IAF.

In reply to another question the government said the IAF did purchase some reconditioned engines for the MiG-21, but this had been done after thorough scrutiny of their condition by a team of experts.

Faced by a barrage of questions on MiG-21s in the House, the government also described as incorrect that two Mig-21 aircraft crashed on the same day in September this year due to faulty spare.

The Defence Minister said exact causes of accidents were under joint investigations by specialists from the HAL, IAF, Centre for Military Air Worthiness Certification and the Director-General of Aeronautics Quality and Assurance.


No flying coffins, says air chief

New Delhi, November 27
Regretting the criticism following a spate of accidents involving MiG 21 fighter aircraft, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal S. Krishnaswamy, today asserted that the Indian Air Force had the highest standard of air safety.

“I am not making my men fly coffins”, he said.

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