The Indian Air Force MiG-27 fighter jet that crashed into a residential building in Jodhpur

The MiG-27 that crashed in Jodhpur Tuesday is the second this year. Now, the Indian Air Force has 20 MiG-27s left in its inventory

New Delhi: A MiG-27 aircraft crashed near Jodhpur Tuesday, the latest in a rising — and worrying — list of accidents that is depleting the obsolete inventory of the Indian Air Force.

On March 14, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre 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.

There have been more crashes since Bhamre’s reply, though.

A quick calculation by ThePrint shows there have been at least 11 crashes in nine months so far this year. Tuesday’s was the second crash of a MiG-27. They include:

March 20

A Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) from Kalaikunda in West Bengal crashed into the Subarnarekha River. Pilot safe.

May 23

Cheetah helicopter crashes in Natha Top in Jammu and Kashmir. Crew and passengers safe.

June 05

Air Commodore Sanjai Chauhan, flying a Jaguar from the maritime strike squadron in Jamnagar, Gujarat, is killed when his plane crashes. AOC Chauhan navigated his failing aircraft beyond a village to crash into a field. He is the most senior IAF person to be killed in recent crashes.

July 11

Flying Officer Deepak Kandpal ejects safely from his MiG-27 that crashed into a residential area in Jodhpur. There were no fatalities.

July 18

Squadron Leader Meet Kumar is killed when his MiG-21 from Pathankot crashes in Himachal’s Kangra district. He was a poster boy for the IAF, starring in promotional videos saying that “I am one with my MiG-21”.

The MiG-27 and the MiG-21 are the oldest in the IAF inventory.

The IAF operates two squadrons of the MiG-27, that was first inducted in 1985. The swing-wing ground attack aircraft has been grounded more than any other single aircraft type. It is licence-produced by the defence public sector HAL as the “Bahadur”.

After today’s crash IAF has 20 MiG-27s in it’s inventory. A total 174 were licence produced by HAL.

The IAF continues to fly 10 squadrons of the MiG-21 and the MiG-27s because of delays in the indigenous ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft programme. The LCA project was initiated in 1983. The aircraft is scheduled to be completely retired from service from 2019.

The Indian Air Force inventory is a mix of old and new equipment.

Ageing of equipment is a natural process and is dealt with through proper maintenance, obsolescence management, upgrades and acquisition of new equipment without compromising safety. The MiG-21 and MiG-27 UPG aircraft will be phased out on completion of their Total Calendar Life / Total Technical Life by 2024.

Phasing out of aircraft and their replacement with new generation aircraft depends upon national security, strategic objectives and operational requirements of the defence forces and is reviewed by the government from time to time. This is a continuous process.

Every aircraft which is launched by Indian Air Force is fully airworthy. Details of aircraft accidents during the last three years and the current year (up to 04.03.2018) are as follows:

Year No. of aircraft accidents
2014-15 10
2015-16 06
2016-17 10
(upto 04.03.2018)


Source: PIB

Every aircraft accident in the Indian Air Force is investigated by a Court of Inquiry (CoI) to ascertain the cause of accident which may range from human error, technical defect, bird strike etc.