The Navy has grounded the entire Sea Harrier fighter jet fleet in the backdrop of one of the aircraft crashing off Goa last week, rendering its lone aircraft carrier INS Viraat without its aerial firepower.
"The Sea Harriers have been grounded following the crash that left a fighter pilot dead," Navy officials said in Delhi on Tuesday.
With the grounding of the 10 Sea Harrier jump jets, INS Viraat, which got afloat at the Cochin Shipyard's dry dock after a 18-month refit a fortnight ago, may have to sail to Gulf of Aden next month without its fighter jets.
"We cannot operate the aircraft till the Board of Inquiry is complete and the reasons for the crash is known. The problems identified by the probe needs to be rectified before the jump jets are airborne again," officials said.
And, the probe could take a long while as the aircraft does not have a flight data recorder and the wreckage needed to be examined minutely to arrive at the reasons for the mishap, they said.
Following a series of crashes since induction, the Navy is now left with just 10 Sea Harriers of the over 20 it had bought in mid-1980s.