An Indian Air Force pilot was killed in a MiG-21 fighter jet crash at Langeana village of Punjab’s Moga district in the wee hours of Friday. The pilot has been identified as IAF MCC Squadron leader Abhinav Chaudhary and he was on night training when the accident happened.
A Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered to investigate the cause of the incident, it said. This is the third accident involving the MiG-21 this year. In March, a Air Force Group Captain A. Gupta died when the aircraft was taking off for a combat training mission.
The aircraft, inducted into the Air Force in early 1960s, are often called the “flying coffins” due to their poor safety record. According to official data, more than 20 MiG 21s have been involved in accidents since 2010, according to data shared by the Defence Ministry with the Parliament at different times. Between 2003 and 2013, 38 MiG 21 aircraft crashed. Official data also shows that more than 170 pilots have lost their lives in MiG 21 accidents.
Earlier this year, in January, the IAF had reported a MiG-21 aircraft crash during near Suratgarh in Rajasthan. The aircraft had developed a major technical malfunction during a training sortie in the western sector, the IAF had said.
The indigenously designed and manufactured Light Combat Aircraft Tejas were to replace the ageing fleet of the MiG 21, even after the upgrades had extended their lives. However, the delay in the Tejas programme has affected the timeline for the MiG 21s being phased out.