March 23, 2023

iaf: Pilot killed as MiG-21 goes down, 3rd death in 5th crash this year | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI/ JAISALMER: In yet another MiG-21 crash in the IAF, another pilot was killed when his fighter went down in the Jaisalmer area of Rajasthan on Friday evening. The MiG-21 crashed near Sudasiri village near the India-Pakistan border around 8.30 pm. Some eyewitnesses said the jet caught fire in the air and crashed with a major explosion, with the debris being spread over a one km area.
The pilot, identified as Wing Commander Harshit Sinha, did not get a chance to eject from the plane. The IAF has ordered a court of inquiry to establish the exact reason behind the crash, said an official. Five MiG-21s have crashed this year, with three pilots being killed in them. On March 17, a highly-experienced pilot, Group Captain Ashish Gupta, posted at IAF’s ‘Top-Gun’ school Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment at Gwalior, was killed when his MiG-21 crashed soon after taking off from the Gwalior airbase.
Another pilot, Squadron Leader Abhinav Choudhary (28), was killed when his MiG-21 ‘Bison’, which had taken off from the Suratgarh airbase in Rajasthan for a “routine night combat training sortie”, crashed on May 20.
The old Soviet-origin MiG-21s, the first truly supersonic fighters to be inducted by the IAF in 1963, have had a high crash rate over the years. Of the 872 MiG-21s progressively inducted by IAF, over 400 have been lost in accidents since 1971-72, killing over 200 pilots and almost 50 civilians on the ground, as was earlier reported by TOI.
The MiG-21s should have been retired long ago. But the huge delays in induction of new fighters, especially the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), has meant the IAF still operates four MiG-21 squadrons (each has 16-18 jets) after upgrading them to ‘Bison’ standards.

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