New Delhi: A MIG-21 jet of the Indian Air Force crashed in in Rajasthan's Bikaner district on Friday afternoon. The pilot managed to eject safely.
The aircraft took off from the from the Nal air base for a routine mission and crashed at Shobhasar ki Dhani area, 12 km from Bikaner city, the officials said.
IAF spokesperson Group Captain Anupam Banerjee said initial inputs indicated the cause as bird hit after take off. The pilot of the MiG-21 aircraft ejected safely, he said, adding that a court of inquiry would investigate the cause of the accident.
Bikaner Superintendent of Police Pradeep Mohan Sharma said police teams had been rushed to the spot and no loss of life has been reported.
The MIG-21 Bison has been in the news recently as it had taken on a Pakistani F-16 warplane in a dogfight on February 27. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was flying the Mig-21, had taken down the F-16 but had lost his jet too.
The aerial dogfight took place a day after the IAF launched an air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Balakot.
The jet flown by the Wing Commander was part of the fleet that is well past its retirement age and has been kept operational with repeated upgrades and service life extensions.
MiG-21s have been the most accident-prone of all IAF fighter jets, thus earning the names "flying coffin" or the "widow maker”.
In the past six months, two MiG fighters of the IAF have crashed with one casualty on November 28, 2018.
From 1963-2015 the MiG-21 has had a total of 210 accidents. Of these, a maximum of 16 accidents took place in 1999, according to the Bharat Rakshak, a database that gathers information on the Indian Armed Forces.
A 2012 India Today report states that MiG aircraft crashes led to the loss of lives of 171 pilots, 39 civilians and eight persons from other services. The report further mentioned that the cause of accidents to be both due to human errors and technical deficits.