Indian Air Force’s frontline combat aircraft Sukhoi-30 fleet grounded after a crash in Pune on October 14 will be back in service within a week’s time, Air Force Chief Arup Raha said Friday.
This is the longest period that the Russian-made aircraft has been grounded since 2009 when operations were suspended for nearly three weeks following an accident.
"This was an accident which appeared to be automatic firing of the seats. Court of Inquiry is about to be complete and the findings are being finalized. We will have the results very soon and we are going to start flying the aircraft very soon," Raha told reporters.
He said that "preliminary findings" do indicate that they have been able to find the reason and "we will be able to tackle the problem without much issue".
"I am very hopeful that the CoI will end soon and we will be able to fly this fleet all over again and get back to normal," he said.
He said, “SU-30 is a "huge and complicated project" under which 270 plus aircraft are being acquired from Russia.”
"IAF has been involved in final configuration of the aircraft. A lot of it is from our side, indigenous and from other sources. So this is a huge project, a complicated project," Raha said the aircraft has good operation capabilities but there are spare supply issues that are being tackled.
"All these are complicated procedures. It involves not only technology but also fiances. But these are being resolved. I will not say everything is in order but things are being worked out which happens in any product. There is distinct improvement," he said.
A team of 10 experts from Russia are currently in Pune, at the Sukhoi-30 base, probing the crash that caused both the pilot seats to eject without any command during landing. The IAF is already down to 34 combat squadrons, as against an authorized strength of 44. Each squadron has up to 18 fighter planes.