NEW DELHI :
As many as 33 Indian Air Force aircraft, including 19 fighter jets, met with accidents since 2015-16, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said Wednesday.
In a written reply to a question, he also told the Lok Sabha that the Russian-make AN-32 aircraft is the "workhorse" of the IAF transport fleet and "there is no plan to phase it out" as they have "useful residual life".
An AN-32 aircraft crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3 killing 13 Air Force personnel.
During 2015-16, IAF's four fighter jets, one helicopter, transporter and trainer aircraft each met with accidents, he said.
In the 2016-17 fiscal, six IAF fighter jets, two helicopters, and one trainer crashed. In 2017-18, the Air Force lost two fighter jets and three trainer aircraft in crashes.
The number rose sharply in 2018-19 with the IAF losing seven fighter jets, two helicopters and two trainers.
This included the crash of the MiG-21 fighter jet which was being piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman during a dogfight with Pakistan Air Force planes on February 27.
On the same day, an Mi-17 helicopter also crashed killing six air force personnel.
In 2019-20, so far, an AN-32 transport aircraft crashed in Arunachal Pradesh, killing 13 air force personnel earlier this month.
Defending the AN-32 aircraft, Singh said it has not met with frequent accidents.
"In the last four years, in addition to the crash on June 3, 2019 only one AN-32 was lost on July 22, 2016 while flying over the Bay of Bengal," he said.
Singh added that a part of the AN-32 fleet has been upgraded with better avionics and airframe reinforcement.
"The remaining part are planned to be upgraded in a phased manner," he said. PTI PR PR TIR TIR