The plan is to retire all four MiG-21 squadrons by 2025.
What is MiG-21?
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 21 is a supersonic jet fighter and interceptor aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union.
MiG is a product of the Soviet Union which entered into service in 1959.
Approximately 60 countries on four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations six decades after its maiden flight.
India inducted the MiG-21 in 1963 and got full technology transfer and rights to license-build the aircraft in the country.
Russia stopped producing the aircraft in 1985, while India continued operating the upgraded variants.
Why so many MiG-21 crashes in India?
Over the last ten years, 108 air accidents and losses have taken place involving all arms of the military – IAF, Navy, Army, and Coast Guard.
Out of these, 21 crashes have involved the Mig-21 Bison and its variants, though the IAF flies mostly the former now.
The high rate of accidents earned the aircraft the nickname of ‘Flying Coffin”.
There is no single, common reason for military aircraft crashes. They can range from weather, human error, technical error to bird hits.
The MiG-21 is a single engine fighter, and that could also be a cause for some of the crashes.
It is a single engine fighter and when it loses that engine, it needs to be re-started. More often than not it re-lights but it takes a finite amount of time to re-light any engine, so if you are below the minimum height, you have to leave the aircraft.
Preventing future aircraft accidents lies in the usage of a combination of technology and appropriate and adequate pilot training.
The installation of Ground Proximity Warning System in the aircraft will generate early signals that can alert the flight crew to take preventive measures against the onset of CFIT.
Effective training of pilots to develop situational awareness and carry out the right intervention must be emphasised in pilot training.