Indian MiG-21 Crashes, Pilot Killed, 5th Crash Involving Bison this Year

  • Our Bureau
  • 05:16 PM, December 24, 2021
  • 2302
Indian MiG-21 Crashes, Pilot Killed, 5th Crash Involving Bison this Year
IAF MiG-21 jet. File photo.

A MiG-21 Bison of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in Rajasthan state on Friday evening, making it the fifth crash involving the Bison this year.

"This evening, around 8:30 pm, a MiG-21 aircraft of IAF met with a flying accident in the western sector during a training sortie. Further details are awaited. An inquiry is being ordered," the IAF said in a statement.

The Bison is the latest variant of MiG-21 in IAF service. The Air Force operates four squadrons of MiG-21s with each of them having 16 to 18 fighter jets. The last of these upgraded jets are set to be phased out in the next three to four years.

The IAF got its first single-engine MiG-21 in 1963, and it progressively inducted over 850 variants of the Soviet-origin supersonic fighters to bolster its combat potential. Of these, more than 60% were licence-produced in India.

During 1980s, IAF introduced the Tejas programme to replace the ageing jets. But due to delays, India decided to extend the Total Technical Life (TTL) of its MiG-21s by upgrading their turbofan engines, radars, avionics, etc.

More than 450 MiG-21s have been involved in accidents that have claimed the lives of more than 150 pilots during the last six decades. This has earned the fighters ominous epithets such as “Flying Coffin” and “Widow Maker."

In January 2021, a MiG-21 crashed near Suratgarh in January in Rajasthan during a training sortie due to a technical malfunction. The pilot managed to eject safely. Two months later, a MiG-21 crashed while taking off in central India, killing the pilot. The third and fourth accidents happened in May and August. MiG-21 pilot was killed in the May crash.

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