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IAF resumes flying grounded Sukhoi fighters

A file photo of Sukhoi -30 MKI

NEW DELHI (BNS): Indian Air Force on Monday resumed flying the Sukhoi fighter jet planes after being grounded for a week following a crash in Jaisalmer on November 30.

"The Sukhoi aircraft has started flying again and the first flight of the fighter jet, after being grounded for a week, took place this afternoon at Lohegaon airbase near Pune," PTI quoting an IAF officer said here.

“The Sukhoi took to the air after the precautionary check on the entire 100-aircraft fleet was completed and the clearance given for flying. Now, one by one all the Sukhois in the five operational squadrons would start flying from today," he said.

On November 30, one of the aircraft crashed in Jaisalmer which led the IAF to ground the entire fleet for a thorough check. This was the second crash of the Sukhois. The previous aircraft had crashed on April 30 this year.

The IAF plans to have a total of 280 Sukhois in its fleet in the next few years.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister A K Antony informed Parliament that the entire fleet of HPT-32 initial trainer aircraft has been grounded after a fatal crash in July this year.

Two instructor pilots were killed in the crash near Hyderabad. The Minister said the force has lost 17 HPT-32s and 19 pilots till now in different accidents, according to a PTI report.

Antony said, the HAL has already commenced design work on the preliminary design of the turbo-prop trainer aircraft.

The minister said the IAF has also signed a contract worth Rs 2,701.70 crore in 2006 with the HAL for procuring 20 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in Initial Operational Clearance configuration.

Responding to a question on Coast Guard, Antony said the force was being equipped with Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA), Dornier aircraft, twin-engine and light helicopters, offshore patrol vessels, interceptor boats along with surveillance, communication and navigational armaments.

"Rs 1155.59 crore have been earmarked for modernisation during this fiscal," he said.

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