INDIA. Mumbai: A MiG-21 Bison aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in a largely uninhabited area in village Matsar in Barmer in Rajasthan, in the Western sector with the pilot ejecting safely from the fighter on Wednesday evening.
“At around 1730 hours today, an IAF MiG-21 Bison aircraft airborne for a training sortie in the western sector experienced a technical malfunction after takeoff. The pilot ejected safely. A Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered to ascertain the cause,” the IAF shared on its official Twitter handle.
A thatched house caught fire in the incident. The pilot sustained minor injuries and was assisted by the local villagers.
This was the fourth accident involving a MiG-21 Bison this year, and the second to have occurred in Rajasthan. The first this year, and in which the pilot ejected safely, took place on January 05, near Suratgarh in Ganganagar district in Rajasthan. The second, in which a group captain lost his life, took place in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh on March 17. The third was reported from Moga in Punjab on May 20 and claimed the life of its pilot, a squadron leader.
At present, the IAF has around six squadrons of Mig-21 Bisons. A squadron comprises around 18 aircraft. The jet, India’s longest-serving fighter plane, has seen more than 400 accidents in the last six decades in which more than 200 pilots have lost their lives. This has resulted in MiG-21 fighters being given sobriquets such as the “Flying Coffin” in the last few years.In June 2019, the Defence Ministry informed Parliament that 27 IAF aircraft have crashed since 2016.
The air force, which received its first single-engine MiG-21 in 1963, has, since then, progressively inducted more than 800 variants of these Soviet-origin supersonic fighters. Among these variants, of which there are 874, more than 60% were license-produced in India. The last of these upgraded MiG-21s are likely to be phased out in the coming three to four years.