What really ails the Sukhoi, India's premier fighter
The Sukhoi-30MKI is a twinjet multirole fighter aircraft developed by Russia's Sukhoi and built under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
One of the Sukhoi-30MKIs flown by a squadron leader and flight lieutenant went missing near the China border on Tuesday. The fighter jet went missing soon after getting airborne from Tezpur. No trace of the twin-engine fighter or the two pilots was found till late Tuesday night despite a major search operation.
Sukhoi-30MKIs, which are the latest and the most potent fighters in IAF's combat fleet, have had technical issues in the past. This incident is worrisome since the IAF has already lost seven of the 240 Sukhoi-30MKIs.
Sukhoi fleets were grounded in April 2009 and December 2011 after crashes in Pokhran region of Rajasthan and Wade-Bholai village near Pune respectively.
Sukhoi fighter taking off at Air Force Station Thanjavur
The first Sukhoi-30MKI crashed on April 30, 2009, in the Pokhran region of Rajasthan killing one pilot. The fleet was grounded for around three weeks. It was found during the investigation that the crash was caused by the incorrect position of critical switches behind the pilots. Modifications were then made in the fighter to rectify the problem.
On November 30, 2009, another Sukhoi-30MKI crashed in Jathegaon, some 40 km from Jaisalmer. The crew ejected safely while the cause of crash was attributed to accidental ingestion of a foreign material in the engine intake.
Sukhoi-30 MKI during 64th Republic Day celebrations
On December 13, 2011, a Sukhoi-30 MKI crashed 20kms from Pune at Wade-Bholai village. The crew ejected safely and the post crash investigation revealed that it was due to a malfunction in the fly-by-wire system.
Sukhoi touching down on Agra-Lucknow expressway
On February 19, 2013, a Su-30MKI crashed at the Pokhran range during the rehearsal of the Iron Fist Exercise. The aircraft's right wing exploded soon after completing a training mission. Both the crew ejected safely.
A Sukhoi flyby manoeuver in the sky
On October 14, 2014, another Sukhoi crashed 20 kms off Pune's Lohegaon Air Force Station. Both the pilots ejected safely and a team of Russian experts came to Idnia the following month to evaluate Sukhoi fleet. Investigation revealed that pilots were ejected out of the aircraft due to a fault in the ejection system.
Sukhoi firing a missile during 'Exercise Iron Fist'
On March 15, 2015, a Sukhoi-30MKI crashed near Barmer in Rajasthan while undertaking a routine training sortie. Both the pilots ejected safely.
It may be recalled that in 2016 when Manohar Parrikar was defence minister he had admitted that the Sukhois did have a problem.