IAF loses first Su-30, one pilot killed

A black day. The Indian Air Force lost its first ever Sukhoi-30MKI this morning. According to a statement from the IAF, the aircraft was on a routine training mission south-east of Jaisalmer today. Both pilots Wing Commander Siddharth Munje and Wing Commander Pushpendra Singh Nara managed to eject, though the latter subsequently succumbed to injuries. It is not yet clear if the injuries were sustained during ejection or otherwise.

The flawless flying slate of the Indian Sukhoi fleet has now been blemished. But it’s not like the fleet hasn’t had problems in the past. In fact, the fleet has been far from perfect in terms of serviceability. The initial lot of 18 Su-30Ks and ten MKIs had to be briefly grounded as a result of engine issues, that were subsequently put down to design problems. According to reports, the initial batches also experienced a high rate of engine failure. This and a host of other issues made the initial years absolutely bristle with teething troubles. Still, through sheer professionalism — and time-tested perserverence to deal with Russian obstinacy — the IAF ensure an accident-free induction of the aircraft, and rapidly brought it up to the frontline air superiority profile.

There was always a lurking, but unspoken fear about when the first Flanker would go down, if at all. It was always considered the unthinkable. Not so unthinkable after all. A terrible, dark day. I met Wg Cdr Nara briefly once in 2007 during a visit to Air Force Station Sirsa, where he was flying MiG-21s. Rest in peace. Heartfelt condolences to his family. And my commisserations to the flying community for this shocking loss.

44 thoughts on “IAF loses first Su-30, one pilot killed”

  1. rest in Peace for Pilot
    I heard that navigator Killed in that accident
    Both managed to eject but accident happen at very low altitude zero chance for ejection ,Wing Cdr Nara was the Navigator,doest not land properly broke spine & got killed
    condolence for his family.

  2. What a coincidence, 1st improved variant of Sukhoi family-SU-35BM crashed, now our customized Sukhoi lost after 10 years of induction of it.

  3. This is rediculous, i think this is the end of the mig-35 being chosen for the mrca, its obvious, faulty Russian parts seem have resulted in the crash. The worst is when we loose highly trained officers to such a shitty crash, sad sad day, screw the IAF, coz this is sheer negligence. I think the f-18 SH is the ideal option, coz aircraft like EF, Rafale, Gripen, Mig-35 and F-16 are far more physically demanding to fly and one of the main reasons for crashes is still pilot disorientation. We can be sure we’ll have a lot of crashes with Rafale, EF, Gripen and mig-35. F-18 SH has the best safety record among all contenders and much less demanding to fly than the others.

  4. Very surprised that neither The Hindu nor New Indian Express have mentioned anything about the loss!

  5. India has lost 2 brave patriot's ( Man & Machine ), so lets we salute them with honor.

    Need to refresh the service teams , should investigate and need to take proper & hard actions against it .

    Su 30 mki is best jet, but without proper / perfect service nothing will survive .

    Su -30 mki is backbone of IAF , so need to produce more jets.

  6. Really surprising. Remember the Su30 crash at Paris air show. Never thought we could loose a pilot with Su30 having K39 0-0 ejection seat, the best in the world. I think more than one thing has to go wrong to bring about such a tragic result, something like twin engine burnout in a sand storm at low alt coupled with pilots reluctance to eject over populated area. Lets see what the investigation comes up with.

  7. somebody please shut that jackass prasoon up! t sarkar jee, where art thou?

    how the hell would full mission simulators have helped, you idiot? would they have enabled the pilot to fly in a flight profile that wouldn’t have injured wingco nara when he landed after ejection?

    and as for the other whining champaks, please understand that the su-30 is a machine, and like all machines, failure is a question of “when” and not “if”. it was unfortunate that one of our fighters crashed, and the loss of a pilot (and an experienced on at that) is a tragedy. but after all the flogging we put these aircraft through, to have just one crash after a decade of service shows that the mki still has probably the best safety record of any fighter in the world!

  8. I second the 11.22 a.m post by anonymous for another reason. Having a US jet in our fleet will give us exposure to the ‘american way’ of operating jet fighters. I believe the standard of our pilots and technicians is still not world class and the best way to get it on par with the best is to buy an american jet.

    I’ve worked in BPO outfits for the last 6 years and have been trained by europeans as well as americans. And I can say for certainity that only the americans have a peculiar ‘kick-ass’ way of training and motivating you which can do your performance a world of good. Today in the IAF we need that same ‘kick-ass’ effect.

    I know my above post will attract a lot of hate posts, but the fact is that we face a crisis in the IAF and the only way is to seek help from the best.

  9. Anon @ 11:22. Put your money where your mouth is. If you have evidence of “negligence” on the part of the IAF, present it, else kindly avoid speculating. Let the inquiry do their job, and the IAF get on with the business of mitigating risk in their daily job.

    Sujay, not a hate mail, but a comment. The IAF has done an outstanding job by building a professional and competent outfit with no ‘help from the best’ till date. Unlike the world of BPOs, retaining one’s independence in thought and action is one of the most creditable achievements of the indian armed forces. We may not be perfect, but by god we are beholden to no other power. May it continue to be so.

  10. May the Pilot rest in peace.
    We need to seriously inspect the Russian made things and be really very careful to induct more of these things.We had problems with mig 21, mig 29 etc.and serious course of actions should be taken to prevent more kind of these sort of incidents in near future

  11. ‘Russian obstinacy’..what about Hawk??forget about other new aircraft not under our use ….shhe…there is no one except russia who would have parted with such techonlogy, and even now……..
    the aircraft crashed at low altitude…who’s mistake etc would be known crystal clearly…and the only way out at such low altitude was to eject immediately…….it would also be a thing to know whether the crew wasted time……as AFA cadets we were instructed to steer clear of populated areas in event of aircraft faliure….and it was the reason for many pilots losing there lives(MiG-21 pilots expecially)…..
    Have you ever asked what a pilot goes through if he manages to survive a crash?? try finding out one Shiv and post a story…..else i’m there……a harrier
    and why does this crash get so much publicity……..
    why should the Hindu for that matter write a big item about it(they had written it in a small box in the front page)??Aren’t army officers dying in the border…….even there names are not mentioned many a times….

  12. This is rediculous, i think this is the end of the mig-35 being chosen for the mrca, its obvious, faulty Russian parts seem have resulted in the crash. The worst is when we loose highly trained officers to such a shitty crash, sad sad day, screw the IAF, coz this is sheer negligence. I think the f-18 SH is the ideal option, coz aircraft like EF, Rafale, Gripen, Mig-35 and F-16 are far more physically demanding to fly and one of the main reasons for crashes is still pilot disorientation. We can be sure we’ll have a lot of crashes with Rafale, EF, Gripen and mig-35. F-18 SH has the best safety record among all contenders and much less demanding to fly than the others.
    did you went there to check whether there was faulty russian parts

    all aircraft have crashed

  13. And I can say for certainity that only the americans have a peculiar ‘kick-ass’ way of training and motivating you which can do your performance a world of good. Today in the IAF we need that same ‘kick-ass’ effect.
    foolish comment

    ya thats why they lost f22 this year

  14. su27,su30 series are flying for over last 25 years ,every kind of aircraft has crashed

    and su30 is no exception

  15. Prasun, you know nothing of the reasons for the crash. So shut up and stop speculating. For once have some grace in your life.

  16. Dear BPO expert, please continue at the BPO and let the IAF do its job. And as for US training, we trained the USAF enough about what us third worlders are capable of both at Gwalior (9:1 win ratio) or at Mountain Home (27:1).

    Fact of life is military aviation (fighters) are the riskiest job there is. I can think of none riskier apart from the Siachen Pioneers (chopper unit). Things go wrong and its professionalism and luck which save the day. But sometimes even they are not enough.

    You kids should wish WingCo Nara a glorious trip to the afterlife and think about helping his family and loved ones he left behind. Its the least you can do.

    Instead you children are attacking the professionalism of the IAF and that publicity hound Prasun will never quit using each and every incident for his self promotion.

    Grow up please!!

  17. Guys,
    Before you speculate and ill-inform some more Indians…. Wg Cdr Nara was one of the most accomplished pilots.. he was not a navigator.. He commanded the prestigious 21 Sqn Ankush…he was a DASI Inspector..and he was on a inspecting mission regarding the state of prpeparedness of the SU-30 fleet. Wg Cdr Munje was the most experienced of the Sqn Fighter Combat Leaders..hence stop talking about negligence… they are the best breed of professionals one can ever come across.
    Regarding buying US stuff etc.. thats a political decision..sometimes you need to buy whats best for the country even if there is a better fighter elsewhere…our strategic interests need to be taken into consideration too… stop whining for the US planes… they have had more crashes than we can recount.

    The Su-30 has not had a single crash since 1997 when they were inducted…that speaks volumes regarding the aircraft and the sheer professionalism of its pilots.

    We dont need ‘kick-ass ‘ training Sajay… we have much better training than all the corporate trainers put together and more over we dont need the US to teach us….not gloating over our superiority but just the fact that we have thoroughbred professional training systems in place…the US F-15 and F-16 pilots would vouch for this when we smacked their asses despite their ” kick-ass” training as you put it.

    Let the Court Of Inquiry bring out the facts….dont jump to conclusions. The IAF has time tested systems of fact finding in place…we have lost an extremely experienced patriot and professional…please be compassionate to his family .
    Do not write fantasies which you surmise when you know no facts.

  18. Remember, 1st Miragd 2000 crashed only after 2 years of it’s induction(15 sep,1987).After 2 years of this incident2nd Mirage lost on AE Day Flypast(i.e 8 oct,89).This time Wg.Cdr. Bakshi(a senior most experienced pilot) killed . Every life loss is painfull,but blaming all fault on russian fighter is also very naggingfull. After-all su-30mki is not immortal thing,like all flying machines it also crashed.

  19. Mr. Jeet, well we have had enough crashes through the years to show that either our maintenance sucks or our training, either way there is enough proof of negligence. Even if there isn’t, explain such loss to the families of our pilots. We on average loose 5 to 10 aircraft per year, any number below 10 is considered a lean year. so please shut up. i dont care whose fault it is, i will only acknowledge and appreciate 0 defects and 0 losses to shit like this. please stop with the ridiculous outlook of what a beautiful job we do, if we did a good job, crashes wont occur at least for the reasons of poor maintenance. And yes i dont have to check to know the Su-30mki crashed due to faulty Russian parts, our pilots are trained enough to land the fucker even with no engines. The inital delivery of 18 su-30mk also had shite load of engine flameouts.
    This is again Russian bad quality shit coming into play.

  20. we are also good at playing the blame game with virtually 0 learning. we dont learn any lessons till half our fleet is on the ground. screw the Indian democracy, its a disgrace. even the shitty Paki F-16 has held a record for 100,000 hrs of crash free flying on their Falcons. i didnt want to come down to do this but our crash record sucks compared even to the Pakis and yes i am writing this so it hurts our ego, coz besides well defended egos, we aint got shit.

  21. sajay wrote: I believe the standard of our pilots and technicians is still not world class and the best way to get it on par with the best is to buy an american jet.

    jeez, where do these specimens come from?

    if the standard of IAF technicians is not “world class” why did they end up impressing the hell out of everyone at red flag, 13,000 km away from home?

    and the best way to get our performance on par is by buying an american jet? you mean like the pee aye eff next door???

  22. In the Us /CIS countries it was found that two man crew is better in every way than a single pilot operated ac .The said Air Forces are using Navigators/ system operators who are highly professional in their operational task adding to the betterment in performance as well as Flight Safety ( one of the most important aspect in the modern day where the Air Craft cost humongous amount )But in the IAF it was thought by the fighter pilot that and put into operational policy that that two pilots will be better than the second professional crew as in the other air forces .From where they got the concept God only can tell but in my view this is a wonky way of looking at things & now it has proven wrong too .The loss incurred cannot be compensated by any means .Don’t forget that if the real war takes place where nuclear option is used & the ICs fail ,which they will I all like to see if ,I am alive what the consequences are .I hope someone corrects the follies of earlier decisions for the betterment of the force .Someone has to bell the cat .

  23. Traditionally russian fighter has lower MTBO than western fighter. As sukhoi is main front line fighter, IAF uses it extensively.For this reason our sukhoi's life span also reduces.Russian made their plane according to their environment,requirement.Untill we made our plane according to our requirement these associated problems(engine problem,servicing problem,mordernization problem etc.) of a foreigne fighter will happen & we(tax payers) will bear these extra cost.

  24. @ Sosa

    100000 hours for F-16 right.

    So let me calculate IAF fleet of Avg 50 Su30 since 2002.
    7years x 50 planes x 350 hrs/year = 1,22,500 hrs and no crashes

    This is profesionalism of IAF with SU30

  25. sosa, potty mouth aside, what do you really know? you can throw all the names and cuss words around, but you merely demonstrate your lack of knowledge.

    let me guess, in your own words, all you know is shit and all you have is a well defended ego.

    you say our pilots are trained to land the “fucker” with no engines. can i suggest you get off the potent brew you have been imbibing? the MKI is a FBW aircraft, if its engines cut off, and power fails, there is no option but to eject. same as in the newest fighters the world over.

    india loses aircraft each year because india’s AF trains hard without any peacetime break. our pilots fly high flight hours month after month year after year. their professionalism is well regarded by people the world over.

    dont make us laugh about pakistan and its so called F-16 fleet. a few PR releases about error free flying dont tell anyone anything. tell us about the intensity of training ops and the reality will be apparent.

    second, there is no evidence of the MKI crash being because of poor maintenance. let the COI do its job first.

    as a IAF brat, who has watched the organization up close, and now sees the corporate world, there is a lot civilian India can learn from the IAF.

  26. firstly the Su-30 doesn’t fly 350 hrs a year, this is roughly 30 hours a month, moron thats more a war time number. the peace time number is around 20 hours a month.

    secondly, ananth…yes all i have is a big ego and a wide potty mouth, but hey i am a wealthy fucker who doesn’t care for what really smart people like u think, coz smart as u are, ur a broke bitch. What i contribute in taxes per month is much more than u can make in an entire life-time, what i contribute per year can buy the IAF atleast 2 su-30mki, so yeah i feel pissed off when my tax money crashes to the ground, you dont contribute much anyways besides your smart words so continue living your minimum wage smart life, while enjoy the fruits of my wealth with all the ego that comes with it.

  27. I recently read in Indian Express that the aircraft did an uncontrolled 270 degree manoeuver before the crash, so it could have been caused by a faulty thrust vector nozzle.

    That is the catch 22 with having thrust-vectoring nozzles: If a thrust-vector nozzle breaks during flight, you end up with an uncontrollable aircraft.

  28. The news said that the aircraft went into a involuntary bunting maneuver which tossed it around in a 270 degree angle. Now bunting is pitching strongly down. They mention a uncontrollable spin and no response to stick movements, either technical fault or structural damage. i dont think the TVC has any problems coz the nozzel could malfunction but the aircraft will still fly coz its got thrust. i think its a fault in the FBW coz the loss of control was sudden and the pilot could not get any response from the stick. Now this could be a serious problem with hydraulics or pnuematics. usually a crash is the result of a chain of things going wrong.

  29. yo duda anon @ 11:04………

    you contribute enough to buy 2 Su 30….. good enough…..but cant reveal your identity…….

    well i’m A B777 type rated examiner from Air india……there aren’t many so probably keep on guessing and yeah u can guess my low end salary……..

  30. sosa, a lot of people here make more money than you and know more than you as well. the difference between us and you is that we are better educated, and mind our tongue especially as we are guests on somebody else’s webpage.
    so, dear sosa, you are the “broke bitch”, both mentally and characterwise. all your daddy’s money cant buy you any respect, everyone here can see you for what you are. most probably an unemployed teenager out on the internet after some furious pocket billiards.

    doesnt impress us. go to school like a good boy, learn your tables hard, and one day you might amount to something.

    second – there is no peacetime and no wartime number. the iaf works according to a strictly laid down table of requirements for its pilots, and they have to meet those standards. after that, the excess flying done is according to spares available, and fuel allocation available to that unit. apart from the flightline availability which the “boss” decides with his lead engineering officer.

    IAF mki crew have indeed flown over 300 hours a year consistently. i doubt you have any sources in the IAF with which to even confirm these figures so you may as well look at AWST regarding the initial exercises that were flown at Gwalior and Pushpindar C’s rejoinder to the controversy over Terry Fornof’s remarks.

    part of the reason for the high flight hours is the nature of the tasks the MKIs are expected to fulfill at wartime, which are substantially different from the earlier fleet. this is has not been revealed publically yet so i will bide my peace.

  31. according to me india should buy gripen bcoz it is cheapest all of 6 and provide intermediate solution until pak fa atleast and required min service and it not Russian bcoz Russian ac= cheap,low tech and no quantity control i.e. short life span,high engine failure like kargil with mig-27 and upgrade need after few years

  32. If india has plan for 200 nos in mmrca , it can get 126 nos Mig35 with TOT & balance will be F-16I without TOT . F-16 I version seems to be best in world with python 5 , it will give sharp edge against chinese fighters.

  33. Hi,

    When I had first made my comment on this thread, a lot of fanboys had come down hard on me for my comments on the lack of proper training in the IAF.


    The fanboys would want to see the report in the above link where it specifically says that the SU-30 crash was caused by pilot error and also that the death of the co-pilot was caused by the malfunctioning of equipment. Either way it points to serious deficiencies in the training of pilots and maintainence personnel of one of the premier fighter squadrons of the IAF. What say now fanboys?!!!

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