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Worries for IAF as Russia finds problems with MiG-29s

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MiG-29K/KUB. RAC MiG photo

MOSCOW (BNS): The report about Russia grounding some of its Mig-29 combat jets has caused some worries in India which flies a large number of these aircraft.

Russian agencies reported top defence ministry officials as saying that some of the aircraft had shown signs of metal corrosion. This was detected during inspections carried out of the fleet after a MiG-29 crash in East Siberia last December in which the pilot was killed.

Inspection of around 200 aircraft is complete and it was found that at least 90 had some problems in the frame. What is causing additional worry is that even some of the new aircraft with only 150 hours of flying have shown the problem of metal corrosion in their tail sections.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted Lt Gen Sergei Bainetov, head of flight security at the Russian Air Force, as saying that even new aircraft which had clocked not more than 150 flight hours showed signs of metal corrosion in their tail sections.

The cause of the problem is being looked into as experts were trying to find out if there was any defect in the metal that is being used in the aircraft. Before the East Siberia crash, another MiG-29 had crashed 60 km from the Domna airfield in the Chita region during a training flight. The pilot had managed to eject safety.

Two Russian Air Force MiG-29s were also involved in a mid-air collision over the Rostov Region.

Any problem with the MiG-29s in Russia would have a direct impact on the Indian Air Force (IAF) which also operates a large number of these aircraft known as Fulcrum to NATO forces. IAF has three squadrons of the air defence aircraft which plays a key role in its strategic planning.

The IAF’s MiG-29 had under gone upgradation as new systems and avionics were being incorporated. The 900 million contract to upgrade MiG-29s was awarded to Russians.

Apart from the IAF, Indian Navy has also ordered MiG-29 Ks for its aircraft carrier. The 16 are scheduled to arrive and more were in the offing. The MiG-29s have also been selected to be the main air platform for the new Indigenous Aircraft Carrier under construction in Cochin.

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