Hyderabad airshow crash a wake-up call?
It was a promise that Lt Cdr Rahul Nair could not keep. Some months ago, Nair had promised to return home soon to sample his mother’s cooking.
On Wednesday, Nair and fellow pilot Cdr S.K. Maurya lost their lives during the Indian Aviation 2010 air show in Hyderabad.
The pilots, having more than a thousand flying hours to their credit, were flying the Kiran MkII aircraft, which was inducted in the armed forces in the 1980s.
Post the crash, the Indian navy has grounded the fleet of 20 Kiran trainer aircraft.
The crash has left many concerned over the safety of these big birds used by our armed forces, let alone whether they are completely functional and serviceable for a war.
Since last year, at least 13 defence aircraft have crashed, killing 16 security personnel. As a nation, do we attach no value to human life?
Defence expert C. Uday Bhaskar writes in one of his reports “vintage aircrafts that have been assigned a place of pride in museums abroad are still flown by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy”.
The question that many raise now is — even though a mammoth amount is allocated for defence spending in the budget each year, why aren’t these obsolete machines updated?
Defence experts explicitly point fingers at the nexus of politicians and bureaucrats for the delays in procurement of French Scorpene submarines, INS Vikramaditya, Arjun tanks, self propelled wheeled artillery and ultra light howitzer guns.
Many also feel that since India has the second largest army in the world and with troubled borders on both its eastern and western frontiers, the government must be more sensitive to the needs of the defence forces.
Is the Indian politician ignorant when it comes to the needs of a modern army? Are politicians and bureaucrats just the ones to be blamed?