Air Marshal on joyride or after flying bounty

A frontline Mirage 2000 combat aircraft piloted by Air Marshal Anil Chopra,  head of   Personnel  at Air HQrs and Commodore Commandant,  of the oldest, most pampered, unit of IAF — No. 1 Squadron, Gwalior, went down yesterday.  “Snag in the engine”was trotted out as the reason for the mishap. This is hard to believe considering the Mirage facilities — air-conditioned hangars with surroundings that many Mirage pilots boast are more antiseptic than most hospitals in India — are top-rated. What may be really to blame are two factors: (1) Air Mshl Chopra was earning his “flying bounty” — an allowance even long-in-the-tooth senior officers, who have long since specialised in flying desks, draw with all the attendant risks — meaning, you are simply no longer young with the necessary quick silver reflexes to handle a fly-by-wire fighter, and hence endanger self and co-pilot, and are in danger of totaling the plane, which last happened — a writeoff. But the lure of the bounty by logging the mandatory minimum hours in the air is too much for these gentlemen to resist. And/or (2) as Commodoe-Commandant and retiring soon, a last flight or two to re-experience the highs of combat aircraft flying.

Could the CO, No. 1 Squadron, have not permitted Air Mshl Chopra to fly. In theory, yes, but he would have been aware that, as head of Personnel, Chopra could have sidelined his career were he so inclined. In the circumstances, why risk alienating a man also CC of the Squadron? The net result is the loss of an aircraft worth over $200 million (replacement value at minimum) to the national exchecquer . Can a national fighting asset be so cavalierly treated by senior IAF officers intent on joy rides (if the bounty notion is discounted for the nonce)? Indeed, should such advanced aircraft, which can go into a maneuver with a slight twitch of the pilot’s hand, be permitted to be flown other than by the young officers in their professional flying prime? It’s time IAF strictly followed a protocol and penalized senior officers for asserting the prerogatives of seniority and violating strictures against flying, and start by making an example of Air Marshal Chopra.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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2 Responses to Air Marshal on joyride or after flying bounty

  1. Ravi says:

    AM Chopra deserves an immediate court martial and a dishonorable discharge. The almost instantaneous announcement of the “snag in the engine” without even a preliminary investigation by a Court of Inquest is very suspicious. This IMHO seems like a poorly planned and scripted CYA strategy. I’ve seen pilots in their early 60’s fly FBW jet fighters with exceptional skill and alacrity. However, these folks are as thorough professionals as their colleagues 3 decades junior to them, and far removed from the cocktail circuit , bordello, and wheeling and dealing culture a-la New Delhi that has pervaded senior officer cadres of the Indian Armed Forces, like Chopra (for example).

  2. Shail says:

    Er..gentleman are you aware that “Flying Bounty ” went out with the third pay commission?
    Its flying pay now, which no two star and above gets..thats right now a single penny.
    So who’s got egg on his face now ?
    secondly..you know the reason for the accident? was he flying solo?
    no? then how does your cynical article even compute?
    You sir are an Ass!!

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