SP Guide Publications puts forth a well compiled articulation of issues, pursuits and accomplishments of the Indian Army, over the years

— General Manoj Pande, Indian Army Chief

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— Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Indian Navy Chief

My compliments to SP Guide Publications for informative and credible reportage on contemporary aerospace issues over the past six decades.

— Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Indian Air Force Chief

Failed fly-by-wire scripts Su-30 Disaster

Issue: 04-2009By Air Marshal (Retd) V.K. BhatiaIllustration(s): By 256.jpg

A top-of-the-line fighter aircraft crashed on April 30 on a routine flight, killing one pilot and injuring another, in the first accident in India involving a Su-30 MKI. The reason for the crash is not yet known, but some sources attributed it to a fire in the engine. A statement from the IAF on the same day said, “An Su-30 MKI aircraft of the IAF on a routine training mission crashed 70 km southeast of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan today. The crash took place around 1030 hours. Both the pilots ejected out of the aircraft.” Within a few minutes of taking off, the pilots reported trouble in the aircraft and both ejected out of the cockpit, after directing the aircraft on to a vacant agricultural land.


A flawless flight safety record spanning 12 uninterrupted years met with an ignominious end when a Su-30 of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was destroyed in a CAT-I accident during the early hours of April 30, killing one pilot even as another escaped narrowly. This was the first crash recorded by the IAF’s fighter aircraft since the induction of the earlier version Su-30K in 1997 and, later, the most advanced Su-30 MKI in 2002. A plethora of perplexing reasons, ranging from engine fires to structural failures, appeared in the media as the probable causes of the fatal crash, but without any substance or proof. As is the norm, the IAF has immediately ordered a Court of Inquiry (COI) even as it prudently grounded the Su-30 fleet as a temporary measure. Out of a total order of 230 aircraft, the IAF is at present reportedly operating 60-plus Su-30 MKIs in three squadrons: No. 20 Lightnings and No. 30 Rhinos based at Lohegaon in Pune and No. 24 Hawks at Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. Two more squadrons are reportedly under raising. Considered to be the top of the IAF’s frontline jetfighters, the Su-30 MKI has represented the force in various international air exercises, including the prestigious US Red Flag in 2008.

April 30’s ill-fated aircraft belonged to No. 30 squadron and was part of a four-aircraft strike formation which took off from Pune for a live armament sortie at Pokharan range near Jaisalmer. The squadron was under inspection by the Directorate of Air Staff Inspection (DASI) and this could have been one of the assessment sorties. That might explain as to why Wing Commander P.S. Nara, a highly experienced pilot attached to DASI for the squadron inspection, was occupying the rear seat of the jet piloted by Wing Commander S.V. Munje, a senior flying member of the Rhinos.