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Crash tests for MiG

New Delhi, Sept. 23: The Indian Air Force is putting the MiG-21 bis upgraded version of fighters through additional tests after two of the aircraft crashed on September 9, even as the first squadron of planes was being put together.

Air chief marshal S. Krishnaswamy said Russian scientists and Indian experts were carrying out checks on the aircraft's fuel-system and were also putting it through metallurgical tests with facilities from Hindustan Aeronautics in Nashik and Bangalore.

The MiG-21 bis upgraded aircraft are to form a bulk of the IAF's fighting force. They are being upgraded by the Russians under a 1997 agreement. The upgradation has gone through time overruns and the first squadron was formed in Ambala earlier this month. But two crashes on the same day have warranted further tests.

Earlier, the aircraft called “Type 75” with “R-25” engine were grounded for about a fortnight in May, despite the heightened state of alert after repeated “engine flame-outs”.

The IAF chief said a board of 14 air marshals was currently going through a process of making “deep pocket selections”. This was designed to vest more responsibility on younger officers with more years of service.

Krishnaswamy said a new batch of Sukhoi-30 aircraft were to be inducted into the force later this month. He said the air force had “done its homework” and sent its recommendations on the acquisition of an advanced jet trainer.

Asked if the IAF had settled on the British Aerospace-built Hawk, the air chief said he did not want to go into specifics right now, but now that the Prime Minister had returned, he expected the Cabinet to deal with it shortly.

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