The Russian Air Force suspended flights of MiG-29 fighters, after a MiG-29 jet crashed in Russia’s Tver region on Thursday morning, killing the pilot.
The crash and the subsequent suspension of the flights of MiG-29s cause concern in Russia as it recently submitted a request for information (RFI) to India on the fighter aircraft, in the wake of the US offer of joint production of F16s and F-18s.
‘‘The flights of MiG-29s have been suspended based on the decision of Air Force Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Mikhailov until the reasons for the air crash in the Tver region are investigated,’’ Air Force spokesman Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky told Interfax.
But in Delhi, a senior IAF officer told The Indian Express, ‘‘It is certainly tragic that the pilot reportedly lost his life in the crash. But to say that one crash could affect a commercial offer is ridiculous. The IAF has no final say on which fighters it will buy and the government has not chosen which aircraft to arm the Air Force with. The MiG-29 is only one of the contenders. Anyway, if one crash could affect an offer, I’m afraid no fighters would ever be bought or sold.’’
The officer also indicated that under existing Indo-Russian military-to-military arrangements, the two countries freely exchanged information on air accidents. ‘‘The information will be made available to us under existing agreements. We do not need to request,’’ he said.
Russian offered to transfer full technology of the MiG-29 for a comprehensive license production programme with HAL in Bangalore.