India has fitted at least 18 of brand new Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets with already-used and secondhand AL-31FP engines, compromising safety and capability of the country’s frontline fighter aircraft besides posing risk to the life of pilots.
“It was noticed while checking the records…that AL 31FP engines fitted in certain aircraft was in Cat B condition at the time of inspection/delivery to Indian Air Force (IAF),” Deccan Chronicle reported quoting an un-named report as its findings.
“Without the knowledge and approval of the defence ministry, what is surprising is the acceptance of such aircraft by the IAF,” said the report summarizing its findings. The daily did not mention the origin of the report.
Certain aircraft with one new and one old engine were wrongly accepted by IAF and the Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance. As these arrangements were not in tune with contractual provisions, it should have been rejected by IAF and Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA).
In any case, IAF should have obtained approval from MoD for accepting aircraft with one secondhand engine. India has about 230 operational fighters although just half is available for operational flights at any given point of time. Besides, About 7 Sukhoi 30 MKIs have crashed to date, resulting a loss of about Rs 2,350 crore.
The Saturn AL-31 is a family of military turbofan engines. It was developed by Lyulka, now NPO Saturn, of Soviet Union, originally for the Sukhoi Su-27 air superiority fighter. The AL-31FP is an improved variant for the Indian Su-30MKI with thrust vectoring.