Yet another MiG-21 crashes, pilot bails out


New Delhi : A MiG-21 fighter plane of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in the Barmer district of Rajasthan Friday.

Support TwoCircles

This is the sixth air crash of an IAF combat jet this year and the fourth of Soviet-era MiG-21 variants, which are likely to be phased out of service in 2016.

The pilot bailed out in time to safety. An IAF rescue team rushed him to a military hospital.

The aircraft was returning from a training sortie when it crashed around 11.30 a.m. in Barmer district, some 600 km from Rajasthan capital Jaipur.

“The plane crashed close to Uttarlai air station while returning to base. The plane was, in fact, attempting to land in the airfield. The pilot, Flying Officer A. Sethi, is safe,” an officer said here.

A court of enquiry has been ordered into the accident, he added.

The Feb 4 and Aug 2 MiG-21 crashes this year had pilot fatalities. The pilots of the crashed MiG-21 of Sep 6 and Friday had better luck.

The single-engine MiG-21s have a patchy air safety track record. Of the 793 MiG-21s inducted into IAF since 1963, over 340 have been lost in crashes.

The planes earned the sobriquet ‘flying coffins’ in the beginning of this century after a series of crashes killed their pilots.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne has said that the MiG-21s will be flown only by experienced pilots from January next year, as the Air Force will pull out these supersonic jets from the training routine of rookie pilots.

That would mean Flying Officers will not be flying these ‘unforgiving’ jets very soon and only Flight Lieutenants and Wing Commanders would be allowed to fly them.