Panaji: Eight Sea harrier fighter jets of the Indian navy have been grounded here following last Friday's crash of a plane in the sea off Goa, which resulted in the death of the pilot, an official said in Panaji on Wednesday.
The entire fleet based at the Indian Naval Service (INS) in Hansa, Goa, has been thoroughly inspected by members of the Board of Inquiry set up after the accident that killed Lt Cdr Saurav Saxena.
"Contrary to reports, the Sea Harrier fleet in Goa has not been grounded," a senior naval official said. But the board members want to run a check on each aircraft, and the inspections were being carried out "for the last two or three days" he added.
MAN & MACHINE: Outgoing Navy chief Mehta said Sea Harrier is a perfectly good machine.
Last Friday, during a routine exercise with an Indian Navy ship, Saxena was forced to ditch his Sea Harrier into the sea 15 km off the Goa coast. Navy officials claimed that the plane had been only seven to eight years old and in good condition.
Outgoing Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who happened to be in Goa when the accident occurred, had said that "every crash was a matter of concern". But had ruled out the possibility of susceptibility of Sea Harriers to accidents saying they were perfectly good machines. "The Sea Harriers have gone through a mid-life upgrade too," the admiral said.