In 1983 the Indian Navy acquired 30 Sea Harrier jump jets from the Royal Navy to support their aircraft carriers. By 2009 the Indian Navy is down to only a dozen, with the latest crash.
"The Indian naval 'Sea Harrier' aircraft, which was on a routine exercise mission, crashed at about 1157 hours," a naval spokesman told PTI here.First, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the pilot.
The single-seater aircraft crashed in the Arabian sea 15 miles away from the shore.
"Lieutenant Commander Saurav Saxena, the pilot of the aircraft lost his life in the incident," the spokesman added.
This is the 18th Sea Harrier to crash or become beyond repair since 1983, leaving the Indian Navy with only a dozen Sea Harriers. Some of the 12 will be used for training purposes, although with only 12 total Sea Harriers that may no longer be an option.
There were rumors last year that India might purchase 8 more Sea Harriers, but I do not believe that purchase ever completed. The loss of every Sea Harrier further reduces the operational capabilities of the Indian Navy. It further only compounds the problems the Admiral Gorshkov fiasco has been for India, because the delay is putting India in a terrible position attempting to maintain their aircraft carrier force.
As the Sea Harrier force continues to shrink, India clearly needs to move forward with new aircraft carriers and naval aircraft sooner, rather than later.