IAF’s MiG fighter crashes, pilot safe (Second Lead)

Friday, February 4, 2011

GWALIOR - A Soviet-era MiG-21 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed Friday in a forest area near a Madhya Pradesh village due to an engine problem, but there were no casualties as the pilot ejected safely, an official said.

The incident occurred at around 11.20 a.m. near Bela-Bhimlat village, about 150 km south-west of Gwalior air base after the aircraft took off for a routine sortie, an IAF spokesperson said.

“The pilot, Squadron Leader Falguni Laha Roy, ejected safely and was picked up by the IAF,” the spokesperson said.

He said the fighter, MiG-21 ‘Bison’, developed some engine problem causing the crash.

An IAF rescue team flew to the crash site in a helicopter to fetch the pilot. The accident took place in a forest area and there was no damage on the ground.

The IAF has ordered a court of inquiry.

The crash, the first of a MiG series fighter aircraft this year, comes after the Indian Army Wednesday lost two experienced pilots when their helicopter crashed into a residential area in Maharashtra’s Nashik city.

In the last three years, a total of 60 aircraft, including MiG-21s and helicopters, have crashed, killing 43 personnel of the Indian armed forces and five civilians.

In 2010, the Indian armed forces suffered over a dozen air accidents including four army Cheetah crashes at Nagrota and Kalsi in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and Nagaland.

Other accidents were of four MiG-27 and two MiG-21 planes. Three MiG-27 fighters crashed in West Bengal’s Hashimara and Kalaikunda and one went down in Barmer in Rajasthan. The two MiG-21s crashed in Bagdogra in West Bengal and Halwara in Punjab.

A pilot lost his life in the Hashimara crash Feb 16 last year, while three people were killed on the ground even as the pilot ejected safely in the second crash in the same area July 30.

The IAF is in the process of replacing its ageing MiG-21s that have earned the sobriquet “flying coffins” due to the high rate of air crashes in the late 1990s and the early years of this century.

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