Mirage fleet to start flying by month end: Browne

New Delhi: After remaining grounded for more than a month, the Mirage 2000 aircraft fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to resume flying operations by the end of this month, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said here today.

The fleet of frontline Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft has been on the ground for more than 35 days since March 5 after investigations were launched into two air crashes that occurred within a gap of 11 days. "Checks are being carried out and after that the fleet is expected to start flying again by the end of this month," Browne said.

The IAF Chief was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Air Force Commanders` Conference. He said some issues were detected in the engine of the crashed aircraft which was taken to France by original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Snecma for investigations.

The Mirage 2000 has had a good flight safety record as only six of them have crashed since their induction into operational service in the mid 1980s.

On February 24, one of the two aircraft crashed while it was being flown by Air Officer Personnel (AOP) Air Marshal Anil Chopra a few minutes after it had taken off from its home base in Gwalior.

Due to the injuries suffered in the crash, Air Marshal Chopra today saluted Defence Minister A K Antony with his left hand at the Commanders` Conference. The second crash had occurred on March 5.

The IAF has recently signed two deals worth over USD 3.2 billion for upgrading the capabilities of the Mirage 2000 planes with French companies Dassault, Thales and MBDA. Dassault was recently awarded the contract for supplying 126 Rafale aircraft to the IAF.