After fatal crash, Indian Air Force grounds 100 MiG-27s

Indian Air Force MIG 27 seen taking part in an exercise at Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan.

Engine trouble is a known problem in the MiG-27 fleet with crashes in the past being attributed to defects in the R 29 engines of the aircraft. More worryingly, the initial probe has pointed to a major flaw in the engine that seems to have occurred during the overhauling of the aircraft by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The entire fleet had also completed an indigenous upgrade programme last year that was executed by HAL.

Raising a red flag on the serviceability of the fleet, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik said the initial probe hinted at a problem during the overhaul stage that went beyond the realm of day-to-day servicing.

"It (last week's crash) appears to be a fault in the low-pressure turbine blades of the aircraft. This is at the fourth line, at the overhaul stage," the Air Chief said, explaining the possible cause of the MiG-27 crash. He added that the second crash last week, in which a MiG-21 went down, was due to a sudden loss of engine power but investigations on the cause were still on.