A MiG-21 combat plane of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed near the Uttarlai Airbase in Barmer district of Rajasthan on Friday, with the pilot ejecting safely.
The MiG-21 took off from the Uttarlai Airbase around 9 am and was on a routine training sortie, but within 20 minutes into the flight, the supersonic jet crashed.
“The pilot ejected safely,” an IAF spokesperson said here, adding that no damage was reported to any civilian life or property at the crash site.
Meanwhile, the IAF ordered a Court of Inquiry into the incident.
The crash site, according to a Defence spokesperson, was an open field at Sodiyar village, about 40 km from Barmer.
The pilot was rushed to a military hospital for a medical check-up.
Once described as a ‘flying coffin’ and ‘widow maker’ after the plane was involved in a series of air crashes over a decade ago, the safety of the MiG-21s has improved after upgrading the planes.
First inducted in the mid-1960s, the MiG-21s were the first supersonic combat planes of the IAF.
This year, the IAF observes the golden jubilee of this fighter jet’s induction into the force.
Of the over 800 MiG series combat planes that India has inducted from Russia, over 50 per cent have been lost in air crashes. India plans to phase out the MiG-21s completely by 2017, when it will induct the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
India has already selected the French Rafale combat jets as its MMRCA.