By Neeraj Mahajan
Did Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar deliberately lie on the floor of the parliament or was he taken for a ride by his team of advisors?
In a written reply to Ramdas Athawalein Parrikar claimed that one – the main reason behind most IAF accidents is human error. Two, according to him no air crash occurred in 2015-16 upto 23.4.2015, though six crashes were reported in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and eight in 2014-15.
||No. of aircraft crashed
|2015-16 (upto 23.4.2015)
Both the statements are not true and based on false presumptions.
Firstly the Indian Air Force in spite of all its shortcomings has the finest pilots and airmen – in terms of flying skills, motivation and dedication. It is the antiquated equipment, shortage of spares and inadequate training simulators that is letting them down.
“The defense minister is absolutely wrong….It is not the pilot’s fault. It is basically the fault of old equipment. The crashes are taking place because of the old aircrafts and multiple emergencies. Sometimes the pilots do not even get a chance to eject. That is why they die.” says former Indian Air Force PRO Wing Commander Praful Bakshi (Retd)
“There are times when the ejection seats and other systems fail. That is because we are not indigenizing, we are not making anything, we depend on spare parts which are not available. Everybody likes flying the old and showing not spending more money. I would also blame senior Commanders who do not appraise the ministry in time,” he add.
Significantly an air force pilot who survived a crash moved court 10 years ago seeking the scrapping of the entire MiG fleet from the Indian Air Force. His plea was rejected.
Now as far as the defense minister’s claim that no air crash occurred in 2015-16 up to 23.4.2015 is concerned, here are the facts:
March 5, 2015: A Jaguar aircraft of the Ambala Air Force base crashed in Landa-Landi village in Kurukshetra district of Haryana about 65 km from Chandigarh. The fighter jet narrowly missed a school building before falling to the ground. The pilot Flight Lieutenant Vivek Chaudhary sent an SOS message before ejecting with the help of a parachute.
An IAF helicopter rescued the injured pilot and took him to Ambala Cantt Army hospital. Army, IAF and police personnel rushed to the spot immediately after the crash and tried to douse the fire from the debris scattered all over the wheat fields.
January 27, 2015: An IAF MiG-27 on a routine sortie from Jodhpur to Uttarlai crashed at a place about 8 kms from Barmer in Rajasthan. The pilot ejected safely but a civilian was injured and his motorcycle damaged in the incident.
In light of the above, can the defense minister claim that no air crash took place in 2015-16?