The Trouble with Indian Air Force’s MIG-21 Fighter Jets

tags: Soviet Union, India, Indian Air Force, MiG-21, air forces



On July 15, a Russian-made MIG-21 “Bison” fighter jet, operated by the Indian Air Force, crashed while attempting to land at the Uttarlai air base in the Barmer district of Rajasthan. This was the second MIG-21 crash, at the very same air base, in two months. However, unlike in the previous accident, which had no casualties, this time the pilot was killed. The crash has been attributed to pilot error.

Only a day after the second accident in Rajasthan, a serving officer of the Indian Air Force, Wing Commander Sanjeet Singh Kaila, who himself is a MIG-21 crash survivor, petitioned the courts for the scrapping of the entire fleet. Wing Commander Kaila has contended that flying the aircraft has violated his right to work in a safe environment. The wing commander was involved in a crash during a flight exercise in 2005 after his aircraft caught fire. He delayed in ejecting to safety from his burning aircraft because he was flying over a populated region. His accident also took place in Rajasthan.

The MIG-21, which marked 50 years of service with the Indian Air Force in April this year, has been the backbone of the air force’s fleet. The aircraft has participated in every major conflict involving India since 1963, and still forms the bedrock for most of the air force’s operations....



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