The Indian Air Force (IAF) lost 26 fighters, including 12 pilots and seven other crew members, in crashes since 2014. According to the IAF's crash report card of the last five years, seven fighters each were lost in 2014-15 and 2018-19 and another six in 2016-17. In recent times, two years -- 2015-16 and 2017-18 -- were by far the best years as four aircraft were lost in 2015-16, and there were only two accidents in 2017-18.
A number of pilots losing their lives in accidents up to 2019 have added to the dwindling numbers. The total loss of lives in these accidents is 46, including seven aircrews and 27 service personnel who died in crashes.
Earlier, the Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said the IAF lost 27 aircraft, including 15 fighter jets and helicopters, in crashes since 2016. In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Naik said that the estimated quantum of provisional loss in 11 cases of crashes was approximately Rs 524.64 crore.
A breakdown of numbers show:
In 2016-17, six IAF fighter jets, two helicopters, one transport aircraft and one trainer crashed. In 2017-18, the IAF lost two fighter jets and one trainer aircraft in crashes. In 2018-19, the IAF lost seven fighter jets, two helicopters and two trainers.
A fighter squadron contains at least 20 aircraft and the depleting squadron strength of the IAF has been a cause for worry. News agency IANS reports, the IAF is down to 30 from 42.
In 2019-20, so far, two Hawk jet trainers in Bengaluru collided mid-air apart from a Jaguar and a Mirage-2000. Also, an AN-32 transport aircraft crashed in Arunachal Pradesh, killing 13 air force personnel in the month of June.
India will get its first Rafale fighter jets in September this year after an intensive 1500 hours of testing to validate the India Specific Enhancements on it. Thereafter, 35 Rafale jets will be delivered one by one, according to the Minister of State for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Jean Baptiste Lemoyne. The 36 aircraft will be a part of two IAF Squadron, the first of which is the Golden Arrows '17 Squadron. The first batch will be ready to be inducted at Ambala around May 2020.