New Delhi: Fifty IAF aircraft have crashed since 2008, killing 17 pilots, 18 service personnel and six civilians, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Rajya Sabha today.
In reply to a written question, he also said one Su-30 MKI aircraft crashed over Pokhran Range in Jaisalmer during Exercise Iron Fist in February.
He provided details of the crashes involving IAF`s fighter aircraft and helicopters between 2008-09 to 2011-12.
Most number of 12 crashes each took place in 2009-10 and 2010-11. In 2009-10, eight MiG series planes, two Su-30 MKI and two helicopters crashed. In 2010-11, six MiG series fighters and equal number of helicopters crashed.
"In the above accidents, a total of 17 pilots and 18 service personnel were killed. Also, six civilians were killed and 25 injured," Antony said.
Major reasons of aircraft accidents, he said, include technical defect and human error and every IAF aircraft accident is thoroughly investigated by a court of inquiry (CoI) to ascertain its cause and remedial measures are taken accordingly to check their recurrence in future.
In reply to a question whether government plans to provide bigger aircraft for transportation of defence forces, Antony said, "India is jointly developing a Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MTA), in 15-20 ton payload category, with Russia."
For undertaking design, development and production of the aircraft, a joint venture company Multi Role Transport Aircraft Limited was incorporated with HAL.
The aircraft is being jointly developed along with Rosoboronexport as Russian partners. "Preliminary Design Phase (PDP) activities of MTA have commenced on December, 2012," Antony said.
Replying to a question on purchase of bunker buster rifles, he said, "The RFI for Anti-Material Rifles and Breaching Munitions was uploaded on the website of the Defence Ministry in July 2012 with a view to obtain information for Original Equipment Manufacturers about the product."
The Qualitative Requirements are still being formulated, he said. Antony refused to divulge any information "in the interest of national security" whether DRDO proposes to have a joint development program with Israel to develop Indian version of its Iron Drone systems for protection against missiles and rockets.