India halts Sukhoi Su-30MKI flights after latest crash
The Indian air force has temporarily suspended flying on its entire fleet of an estimated 200 Sukhoi Su-30MKIs, following an uncommanded ejection involving the type on 21 October.
“Flying of the Su-30 fleet has been temporarily suspended. The Court of Inquiry is in progress and certain specific checks are being conducted on the aircraft,” says India’s defence ministry.
Both crew members from the air force’s 30 Sqn escaped injury when their aircraft – tail no SB 050 – came down 10.8nm (20km) short of the runway at Lohegaon air base in Pune, with its airframe largely intact. “Both ejection seats had fired whilst the aircraft was coming in to land,” the defence ministry confirms.
The latest mishap was the fifth crash to have involved the multi-role type in Indian service, and has called into question the safety of its Zvezda K-36D ejection seats. The nation’s Su-30MKIs have also been dogged by trouble with the type’s NPO Saturn AL-31FP engines and a poor serviceability rate, according to informed sources.
Counting the latest crash, the Indian air force has lost 20 combat aircraft since August 2011, including two other Su-30s, eight Mikoyan MiG-21s, three RAC MiG-29s, three Sepecat Jaguars, two Dassault Mirage 2000s and one MiG-27.