New Delhi: Indian Air Force's (IAF) flagship fighter jet Sukhoi-30 has been plagued with engine trouble. The Russian-origin fighters recorded as many as 35 engine failures/engine-related problems between January 2013 and December 2014.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar yesterday told the Rajya Sabha that the serviceability of the jets have increased over the past eight-nine months.
He further said that it will improve more in the coming months.
"With concentrated efforts, we have been able to increase the serviceability of the Sukhois by about seven per cent over the last eight-nine months. So, that is an achievement," Parrikar informed the Rajya Sabha as members raised questions on the availability of spare parts.
The minister said by the end of the year, the serviceability will improve by 70 per cent.
"We have improved the serviceability by seven per cent, almost from 49-50 to 56-57 per cent, we intend to get it 70 per cent by year end," he added.
On the issue of spares, he said, "Out of total 69 cases in the last three years, 33 cases are due to finding of chips in the oil, 11 due to vibration in the engine, caused by bearing problem, and 8 cases because of low pressure of lubricating oil."
"Some these were coming from the Ukraine and also Russia. We do have problems. We have taken up the issue with the Russian government. In fact, I had a discussion with the (Russian) minister. In certain cases, with approval, we are also acquiring replacement parts from western sources. Some of the sources of the Russians themselves are western," he further said.
Five Su-30 fighters have crashed during the last five years, setting off alarm bells in the IAF and raising a question mark over the safety of India's frontline fighter.
"A lot of them are from Israel, France and the like. So, those are being brought directly with Russia's approval or, in certain cases, we are coordinating the efforts and getting the spares," he added.
The IAF operates close to 200 twin-engine Su-30s, with another 72 to be inducted. But only 110 fighter planes are fully serviceable.
India and Russia are currently sparring over what led to the crash of a Su-30 MKI near Pune last October. Russia blames human error for the crash, but the IAF refuses to accept it.