Following the recent crash of the twin-seater MiG-29 KUB in Russia killing two Russian pilots, India is considering the grounding of its own MiG-29 K fighters procured from Russia recently. According to Indian Naval Chief Adm. N.Verma, clarifications have been sought from the Russian Aircraft Corporation and if a technical flaw is ascertained, then India will ground its MiG-29 K fleet. Russia has already grounded its fleet of MiG-29 K.
The Russian Air Force MiG-29KUB fighter jet crashed in the Astrakhan region of Russia few days ago. While Indian government has asked the Russians to reveal the nature of the crash and the reason behind grounding of the fleet, it is being suspected that there could be a major flaw which has led to the crash followed by the grounding of the entire Russian fleet of MiG-29K. The plane belonged to the MiG Corporation and was destined for the Indian Navy. The accident occurred during an experimental flight.
The MiG-29KUB crash has left the Indian defense establishment in a panic situation. The two countries signed a contract stipulating the supply of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs to India in January 2004. The contract is part of a $1.5-billion deal to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy. In March 2010, Russia and India signed a contract on the supplies of 29 additional MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets to New Delhi. The start of the supplies is scheduled for 2012. India has already received its third batch of MiG-29s which makes the total number of MiG-29 K to 11 aircraft. Till now, India has fielded nine MiG-29Ks.
The MiG-29 KUB, which has recently crashed in Russia, is the trainer version of the MiG-29K that the Indian navy will operate from the refitted aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The current mishap is likely to aggravate the Indo-Russian military ties further. While Russia has ceased to be India’s top defence supplier lately, its defence interactions have also been tottering due to Russia’s lack of support and irregularities pertaining to Indo-Russian military deals. To top it off, the current MiG-29 KUB crash in Russia by Russian pilots would again jeopardize the Indo-Russian defence ties. Unlike earlier, Russians will now have to come up with a solid explanation for the recent MiG-29KUB crash. Earlier, Russia has blamed state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) or Indian pilots for their incompetence which led to the crashes in India. The earlier MiGs of the Indian Air Force (IAF) from Russia already have a nasty reputation of being dubbed as ‘flying coffins’ and have been grounded by India. The IAF was operating a variant of the MiG-29 which was plagued with problems, with nine aircraft crashing since 1997.
Indian Naval Chief Admiral Verma has mentioned that an Indian Navy team was already there at the MiG factory in Russia to oversee the aircraft's manufacturing and if there is any technical reason, it will be addressed and the entire MiG-29 K fleet would be grounded if need be. However, Russia has still not revealed the cause of the latest MiG-29 KUB crash.