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India lost 61 defence aircraft, choppers in 4 yrs

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Sixty one aircraft and helicopters of the defence forces have crashed in the last four years killing 28 pilots, the Rajya Sabha was informed Wednesday.

"Sixty-one defence aircraft/helicopters have crashed during the last four years (2006-2007 and 2009-2010) and 28 pilots have died in these crashes, Defence Minister A K Antony said in reply to a Rajya Sabha query.

He added, the services have aircraft of varied vintage and checks and maintenance is carried out on each of them before they are allowed to fly.

Answering another query, the Minister said there are 29 abandoned airfields of the Indian Air Force (IAF) spread across eleven states.

"Review of abandoned airfields for revival is a continuous, ongoing process and is based on the operational assessment/requirement of the IAF, he said, adding, no funds were allocated for the maintenance and revival of abandoned airfields during the last two fiscals.

Meanwhile, replying to a query on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence sector, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said, "The Government is not planning to make provision for 100 percent FDI in defence production sector.

"As per rules, 26 per cent FDI is permitted in defence sector on approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

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