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'IAF to deploy some multi-role fighters in Eastern sector'

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Some of the global fighters contending for the $12 billion MMRCA deal.

SHILLONG (PTI): The Indian Air Force has indicated that the ageing fleet of its fighter planes is a matter of concern and hopes that the massive deal to purchase the 126 multi-role combat aircraft would come through.

“A number of older generation aircraft like MiG-21 are operating since early sixties. We have problems with the ageing fleets and their maintenance,” Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Indian Air Force's (IAF) Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal Kishan Kumar Nohwar told a press conference here Thursday.

The Soviet-era MiG 21 fighters have been in operation in the IAF since 1963 and have been involved in a spate of crashes in recent years.

Under the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme, IAF plans to induct 126 fighter aircraft at an estimated cost of $12 billion. Currently, trials are being conducted with aircraft of six manufacturers vying for the deal.

Once the deal is through, the IAF would deploy some of the squadrons in the Eastern sector which currently bases Sukhoi fighters, Nohwar said.

He said when a country has newer aircraft, the percentage of share of human error is more than technical defect. “Presently, the ratio is tilted more towards technical defects,” he said in the backdrop of frequent fighter jet crashes in recent times.

Nohwar said it was to the credit of IAF that the ageing aircraft, particularly MiG-21s, were being maintained in “flight-worthy condition and were ready to face challenge”.

“We have the technical capability to thwart any attack from any quarter. The old fleets are being replaced with newer aircraft,” he said.

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