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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is facing a critical hurdle with its newly upgraded MiG-29 fighter jets, as technical issues have emerged in the retrofitted fuel tanks. These additional dorsal tanks, located behind the cockpit, are crucial for extending the aircraft’s range, but concerns have been raised about their structural integrity and fuel flow.

Sources within the IAF have confirmed challenges with both the tank’s physical design and the internal fuel movement. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Air Headquarters has prioritized finding a solution. An IAF officer emphasized, “This is a critical matter, and top priority is being accorded to it.”

The No.11 Base Repair Depot is leading the investigation in collaboration with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). If needed, private industry expertise may be brought in to expedite the process. The project involves a comprehensive evaluation of the tanks’ structure, design, and operational technology.

The goal is to pinpoint the vulnerabilities and develop necessary repairs or replacements, according to insider reports. These issues surfaced during the broader MiG-29 upgrade program, which included installing the roughly 150-kilogram dorsal tanks holding approximately 950 litres of fuel.

This addition was intended to significantly boost the aircraft’s operational range. However, structural adjustments to accommodate the tanks resulted in a distinctive “hump” on the upgraded versions’ fuselage, which now serves as a visual reminder of the ongoing technical challenges.

The IAF remains committed to resolving these fuel tank issues swiftly and effectively. The timely rectification of these problems is essential for maintaining the operational readiness and combat effectiveness of the MiG-29 fleet.

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