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India's MiG-27 fleet grounded


NEW DELHI (PTI): The IAF has grounded its entire MiG-27 aircraft fleet for checks following last week's air crash near Hashimara in which an ace fighter pilot was killed.

It also ordered examination of the aircraft following preliminary report of the court of inquiry suggesting that the mishap could have taken place due to failure of "low pressure turbine blades", a problem tackled only at the overhaul or fourth line servicing stage.

"The MiG-27 aircraft are not flying till the checks ordered on the fleet are completed," a senior IAF officer said here on Monday.

The IAF flies around 160 MiG-27 swing wing aircraft used for both air-to-air and ground attacks in eight of the existing 33.5 squadrons.

Earlier in the day, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said that the failure of "low pressure turbine blades" was not in the realm of day-to-day base servicing, but was rectified only at the fourth line, overhauling stage.

He said further inquiry into the mishap that killed Wing Commander Oswald on February 16 was in progress.

Naik also said that when an air crash took place, it was not only a matter of grave concern for IAF and the nation, but it also caused "pain" as both an aircraft and a life were lost.

However, he said it was not possible to have "zero accident" rates, but maximum effort should be made to avoid demoralising of the forces when mishaps took place.

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