Sunday, 26 June 2011

MIG-29 Kub Crashes In Russia, Aftershocks Felt In India

Two pilots were killed on Thursday when a Russian Air Force MiG-29Kub fighter jet crashed in the Astrakhan region of Russia on Thursday, law enforcement sources said.

“At 4.43 p.m. the aircraft went off the radar screens around 43 km from the town of Akhtubinsk in Astrakhan region,” the source said.

The crash site has been located and an Mi-8 rescue helicopter is on its way to the site.
Akhtubinsk is home to the Russian Air Force’s test and tactical evaluation center, but it is not yet known if the aircraft came from that base.

The defense ministry of Russia has grounded the entire Mig-29K fleet with immediate effect. This has left the Indian defense establishment really jittery because Russia and India signed a contract in 2004 for the delivery of 12 single-seat MiG-29K and four two-seat MiG-29KUB fighters to be deployed on the Admiral Gorshkov, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy.

The Indian Navy is planning to use a total of 45 MiG-29Ks, including the 16 stipulated under the 2004 contract with Russia.Until 2010 India has received 11 of the first batch.

Now the government of India has asked from the Russians as to the nature of the crash and the reason behind grounding of the fleet. It is suspected that some kind of major flaw has been found, thus forcing even the Russians to ground their own fleet. This time they cannot blame HAL for faulty spares or Indian Pilots for incompetence. Unfortunately keeping with the new Russian mantra of cold shouldering its main buyer and ignoring all attempts by the Indians to mend fences, they have kept mum on this issue and have refused to comment thus far on the accident.