Hyderabad: There are 49 Mirage-2000 aircraft with the Indian Air Force that need a complete overhaul, that is, to be stripped down to the airframe and upgraded. The overhaul is done by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and of the 49, only seven have been re-constructed thus far.
HAL also manufactures the Kiran aircraft that is used by trainees at the Hakimpet Air Force training station. There has been at least one crash a year of this aircraft. In November last year, an IAF HJT-16 Kiran-Mk2 that took off from Hakimpet on a training mission crashed at Bahupeta in Yadadri district. The pilot, who was under Stage-2 training, ejected in time and escaped with minor injuries.
Another Kiran crashed near Siddipet, 50 km from Hakimpet in November 2017. The woman pilot ejected safely though she sustained injuries.
Asked why the IAF still uses these 30-year-old aircraft, a senior IAF officer said, “Technical defects and human error are the main causes of the accidents. The IAF inventory is a mix of old and new generation aircraft. Ageing of equipment is a natural process and is dealt with through proper maintenance, upgrades and acquisition of new platforms.”
“All existing fleets have a residual life for operational utilisation and every aircraft which is launched is fully airworthy.” He said phasing out or upgrading or modernisation of military aircraft depends upon the national security, threat perception, objectives and operational requirements of the forces and is reviewed by the Government from time to time.