A Sukhoi Su-30MKI and a Mirage-2000 aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed in Madhya Pradesh's Morena district during a routine training mission on Saturday, killing a pilot and injuring two who ejected safely

New Delhi: Indian Air Force’s depleting squadron strength has been a significant challenge before the force, but it has added more cause of worry to them with frequent crashes.

Indian Air Force’s two frontline fighter aircraft --- Sukhoi Su-30MKI and Mirage-2000, crashed in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena. The flight had taken off from Gwalior.

In the last five years, the Indian Air Force has lost 24 fighter jets, including 2 Sukhoi, 3 Mirage, and 4 Jaguars, among others. One trainer aircraft, the Sukhoi of state-owned plane maker HAL, crashed in 2018.

Before this, Mirage-2000 crashed in the Bhind district of Madhya Pradesh on October 21, 2021. The pilot got injured in the accident but was safe.

This was the first crash of the Sukhoi Su-30MKI after August 2009. The pilot had ejected safely.

As per reports, Russian-origin MiG-21 Bisons were reported to be lost in the highest number at 10 in the last five years. In 2021 alone, five MiG-21 Bison fighter jets crashed, killing three pilots.

Since its induction in the 1960s, the IAF has lost 292 MiG-21 Bison aircraft.

Morena horror: IAF crash report card shows 24 fighter jets went down in last 5 years snt

Mig-21 Bison is considered the most accident-prone aircraft and has earned the nickname ‘Flying Coffin’ and ‘Widow Maker’.

The government had sanctioned 42 operational combat squadrons to deal with the adversaries, including China and Pakistan.

This figure has never been touched in the IAF’s history. The highest number of squadrons the IAF had in the 1990s at 39.5.

Each squadron comprises 18-20 fighter aircraft. Currently, IAF has about 30 squadrons.

In 2021 on the occasion of the IAF annual day press conference, the Indian Air Force chief, ACM VR Chaudhari, mentioned that the IAF would not have 42 squadrons in the next 10-15 years. “In view of phasing out and induction of new aircraft, we would have 35 squadrons in next decade.”

On the occasion, he had shared the details of squadrons phasing out and induction and said: “We will have four squadrons of light combat helicopters, 6-7 squadrons of AMCA and 6 squadrons of multirole fighter aircraft. Among the fleets that are going to be phased out, include four squadrons of Mig-21, two Squadron of Mig-27 and 6 squadron of Jaguar.

The retirement of Jaguar will begin in 2025-26, and all aircraft will be phased out by 2033.

Except for two squadrons of French-made Rafale -- 36 in number and 40 LCA Tejas jets, there have been no fresh inductions or orders in the past few decades.

The IAF has also planned to acquire 114 multi-role fighter aircraft (MRFA) and indigenous advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA).