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IAF grounds MiG-21 fighter fleet pending investigation of latest crash over Rajasthan


NEW DELHI : The Indian Air Force (IAF) has grounded its entire fleet of MiG-21 fighter jets until checks are carried out and investigation into the reasons behind the crash over Rajasthan earlier this month.

Three people were killed in the crash when a MiG-21 Bison aircraft crashed in mid-air from Suratgarh Air Force Base over Hanumangarh in a village on May 8.

“The MiG-21 fleet is grounded until the investigation is conducted and the reasons for the crash are determined,” senior defense officials here told ANI.

The MiG-21 aircraft variants were inducted into the Indian Air Force over five decades and are about to be phased out.

Only three MiG-21 squadrons are active in the IAF and all will be phased out by early 2025, they said.

The fighter plane that crashed over Rajasthan was on a routine flight when it had an accident. The pilot suffered minor injuries, after which an investigation was launched to investigate the exact cause of the crash.

The IAF has 31 fighter squadrons, including three of the MiG-21 Bison variant.

The MIG-21 was incorporated into the IAF in the 1960s and 800 variants of the fighter have been in service.

The crash rate of the MiG-21 has been a concern of late as many of them have had accidents. The IAF is also looking at introducing indigenous aircraft, including the LCA Mark 1A and LCA Mark 2, along with the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.