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The Indian Air Force has grounded its entire fleet of Russian-made MiG-27 aircraft for checks after a fatal crash in eastern India killed an ace pilot last week, Indian media reported on Wednesday.
Indian officials cite an engine problem as the most likely reason for the accident that occurred on February 16 near Siliguri in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal.
The IAF has grounded the entire fleet of over 150 MiG-27 ground attack fighters for technical inspection.
Last year, the aircraft completed an indigenous upgrade program executed by a state-owned military organization.
"The MiG-27 aircraft are not flying till the checks ordered on the fleet are completed," a senior IAF officer told India's Daily News & Analysis.
India lost two MiG-27 jets last year, and a total of about 12 since 2001, due to crashes attributed largely to defects in the aircraft's engines.
Accidents involving Soviet-designed MiG-27 fighter jets, known as the Bahadhur (Brave) in the IAF, which were produced in India under license and have been used for several decades by the Indian Air Force, are frequent in the country. However, work carried out by Russian specialists since 2003 to improve the planes' reliability has significantly reduced the accident rate.
NEW DEHLI, February 24 (RIA Novosti)
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