A MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in Rajasthan’s Barmer district on Thursday night, leading to the death of both the pilots. Barmer District Collector Lok Bandu told PTI that the IAF plane crashed near Bhimda village in Baytoo.
The IAF, in a tweet, said the twin-seater MiG-21 trainer aircraft was airborne for a training sortie from Utarlai air base in Rajasthan this evening. At around 9:10 pm, the aircraft met with an accident near Barmer. Both pilots sustained fatal injuries.
The IAF said it deeply regretted the loss of lives and stood firmly with the bereaved families.
A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
At 9:10 pm this evening, an IAF MiG 21 trainer aircraft met with an accident in the western sector during a training sortie.
Both pilots sustained fatal injuries.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) July 28, 2022
Visuals showed the aircraft up in flames at the crash site. Police personnel rushed to the spot following the crash.
— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2022
Defence minister Rajnath Singh spoke to IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari following the crash. The IAF chief briefed Singh on the incident in detail.
Singh also mourned the death of the two pilots and extended condolences to the bereaved families. “Deeply anguished by the loss of two Air Warriors due to an accident of IAF’s Mig-21 trainer aircraft near Barmer in Rajasthan. Their service to the nation will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of sadness,” the defence minister tweeted.
The crash once again brings the spotlight on the IAF’s ageing fleet of Soviet-origin Mig-21 aircraft, which were involved in as many as 200 accidents since their first induction in the early 1960s.
In March this year, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhat said in the Rajya Sabha that 42 defence personnel were killed in accidents involving aircraft and helicopters of the three services in the last five years. The total number of air accidents in the last five years was 45 out of which 29 involved IAF’s platforms.
(With PTI inputs)