Monday’s crash of a Sea Harrier aircraft should have rung alarm bells in the ministry of defence (MoD). It seems it has not.
As reported by Mint on 26 November, 16 of the 31 aircraft in the Sea Harrier fleet have crashed. The Sea Harriers were commissioned in 1983. The induction of MiG-29K was to start this year, a process to supplement the ageing and difficult -to-fly Harriers. It has not.
Even after the delivery commences in early 2008, pilots may not be able to fly the new aircraft as they have to go in for further training. Until then, a limited upgrade of the Harriers is all that we have. That’s not enough. In India, defence acquisitions are marred by time delays and attract controversy. The result is a slow process of acquisition that cares little for lives lost and the pain undergone. Apologists will argue that long-term perspective plans do exist, which ke-ep in mind such exigencies. But so many crashes later, one can ask: to what avail?