Debris of the MiG-21 that crashed today afternoon in Rajasthan, India (image: Twitter)
A MiG-21 fighter aircraft belonging to the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed Friday afternoon in the north-western state of Rajasthan.
The aircraft, on a routine mission, crashed after getting airborne from the Nal airbase near Bikaner city, Rajasthan.
“Today afternoon a MiG-21 aircraft on a routine mission crashed after getting airborne from Nal near Bikaner. Pilot of the aircraft ejected safely. Initial inputs suggest a bird hit. CoI will be investigating the cause of the accident,” Defense Spokesperson tweeted.
India had recently announced that all Russian origin MiG-21 and MiG-27 fighter aircraft in service with the IAF will be decommissioned in phased manner by 2024.
The accident-prone MiG-21 fighters have been dubbed as “flying coffins” by some defence experts as they have been living way past their lives.
According to the MoD, 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.