A MiG-21 Bison aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) met with a fatal accident on Wednesday morning, killing a pilot.
The aircraft crashed while taking off for a combat training mission at an airbase in central India.
“A MiG-21 Bison aircraft of IAF was involved in a fatal accident this morning, while taking off for a combat training mission at an airbase in central India. The IAF lost Group Captain A Gupta in the tragic accident. IAF expresses deep condolences and stands firmly with the family members. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of the accident,” IAF said in a statement.
The incident comes two months after a MiG-21 fighter jet of the IAF crashed near Suratgarh in Rajasthan during a training sortie due to a technical malfunction. The pilot managed to eject safely.
The accident-prone MiG-21 fighters have been dubbed as “flying coffins” by some defence experts as they are living way past their initial service life.
According to the Indian Ministry of Defense, over 400 MiG-21s have crashed since the 1970s and many of them were due to technical snags. The jets had been purchased from Russia in the 1960s. 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.