IAF grounds entire Sukhoi-30 fleet after Pune crash

The Indian Air Force has grounded its entire fleet of Sukhoi-30 fighters and each plane is undergoing a thorough technical check following the recent crash near Pune.

IAF grounds entire Sukhoi-30 fleet after Pune crashThe fleet of about 200 twin-engine Su-30s would be back in the air only after they are cleared by the technical review.

"The fleet has been grounded and is undergoing technical checks following the latest accident in Pune. It would be back in air only after a thorough check," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Simranpal Singh Birdi said.

The grounded aircraft represent almost a third of the country's fighter fleet.

The fighters have not flown for a week after a Su-30 MKI crashed near Pune, raising questions about the safety of the Russian-made fighter.

India is due to get 72 more of these planes, each worth over Rs200 crore.

The IAF is down to 34 combat squadrons as against an authorised strength of 44. Each squadron has up to 18 fighter planes.

An IAF official said safety checks with ''special focus on ejection seats'' were being conducted.

Reportedly, the pilots of the plane that crashed on 14 October had reported ''automatic seat ejection.'' One of the two pilots was involved in a previous Su-30 crash too.

Five Su-30 fighters have crashed during the last five years, setting off alarm bells in the IAF. The Su-30 fleet has been grounded at least twice in the past.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had told reporters on 4 October that the Su-30 fleet was facing certain problems, but he refused to elaborate.

The IAF's Su-30 fleet has faced a high number of mid-air engine failures during the last two years, said another official.