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22 jets crashed in 4 yrs; human error, tech defect main reasons

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NEW DELHI (PTI): As many as 22 fighter aircraft of Indian Air Force have crashed since 2013-14 and human error and technical defects were the main reasons for the accidents, Government has informed the Rajya Sabha.

The details were given by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre in a written reply on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a Sukhoi aircraft of the IAF crashed in Rajasthan's Barmer district on Wednesday, leaving three villagers injured. Both the pilots ejected safely.

A Chetak helicopter of the IAF too crash landed in Kaushambi in Uttar Pradesh Wednesday minutes after it took off from an airbase on outskirts of Allahabad.

The Minister, in his reply to a query in the Upper House, said in the current year, five fighter jets have crashed against four in 2015-16.

He said seven jets had crashed in 2014-15 while the number was six in 2013-14.

"Main reasons for these accidents were human error and technical defect," the Minister said.

Bhamre said every accident is thoroughly investigated by a Court of Inquiry (CoI) to ascertain the cause of accident and recommendations of the CoI are implemented.

To a separate question, he identified operational hazards, weather conditions, human error and technical defects for accidents of Cheetah helicopters.

Since 2013-14, there have been four accidents involving Cheetah helicopters in which there were seven fatalities.

In reply to another query, Bhamre said the contract for 12 VVIP helicopters with AgustaWestland International Ltd, signed in 2010, was terminated with effect from January 1, 2014.

Asked about the alleged irregularities in purchase of 197 Light Utility Helicopters, he said the CBI has instituted a regular case in January, 2014 in the matter.

"As per decision of the Defence Acquisition Council on August 29, 2014, the RFP (request for proposal) for 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters has been retracted," he said.

Replying to another query, he said US defence major Lockheed Martin has shown interest in setting up manufacturing facilities for F-16 jets in India under the 'Make in India' initiative. However, he said, no concrete proposal has been received from the company.

The Minister said Boeing and Sweden's Saab have also shown interest in setting up manufacturing facilities for fighter aircraft in India.

Responding to a query on terrorist attacks against Army in Jammu and Kashmir, he said there were 31 army casualties in nine such incidents in 2016. The number of terrorists killed was 10.

In the current year so far, he said there have been three army casualties in two militant attacks.

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