Indian Navy’s MiG-29K Crashes in Arabian Sea

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A MiG-29K trainer aircraft of the Indian Navy operating from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya met with an accident over the Arabian sea. One pilot recovered, and search by air and surface units is in progress for the second pilot. An inquiry has been ordered to investigate the incident.

Subject Mig 29k was launched from an aircraft carrier.

According to Indian Navy spokesperson, 09 warships and 14 aircraft has been engaged in the search operation.

The MiG-29 entered service with the Soviet Air Forces in 1982. The Indian Air Force (IAF) placed an order for more than 66 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase. India ordered the fighters within the framework of two contract signing in 2004 and 2010.

The accident incident of MiG-29K  is not for the first time. On 23 February this year, a MiG-29K crashed after being hit by birds over Goa. The pilots managed to steer the jet away from habitation and ejected to safety. On 16 November last year, a MiG-29K trainer aircraft crashed outside Verna village in South Goa district after both engines failed. Another aircraft was badly damaged after it had veered off the runway while taking off from INS Hansa in 2018. Not only in India, there are MiG-29K related accidents in Russia also. In 2016, a Russian MiG-29K fighter jet had crashed into the Mediterranean Sea as it tried to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. It was reported that the aircraft appeared to have mechanical difficulties shortly after take-off.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India[1] had, in its 2016 report, observed that “the MiG-29K, which is a carrier-borne multirole aircraft and the mainstay of integral fleet air defence, is riddled with problems relating to airframe, RD MK-33 engine and fly-by-wire system”.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India repeated the same observation in 2018 also.

Despite the limitations, MiG-29K is still a lucrative choice. It costs one third of Western fighters like Rafale. Its main shortcomings are in radar, avionics, secure data links, and computer systems integrated with other elements in the battle airspace, like AWACS and ground radars. There are difficulties in the lower airframe and engine life. At the same time its reliability is less and serviceability is not up to the mark. However, it is definitely a cost effective one. Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet unit cost US$66.0 million, whereas MiG-29K – Unit cost US$15 million.

[1] The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is the Constitutional Authority in India, established under Article 148 of the Constitution of India. He is empowered to Audit all receipts and expenditure of the Government of India and the State Governments, including those of autonomous bodies and corporations substantially financed by the Government. The CAG is also the statutory auditor of Government-owned corporations and conducts supplementary audit of government companies in which the Government has an equity share of at least 51 per cent or subsidiary companies of existing government companies.

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