Updated: May 21, 2021 10:16:24 am
An Indian Air Force pilot was killed in a MiG-21 fighter jet crash at Langeana village of Punjab’s Moga district in the wee hours of Friday. The pilot has been identified as IAF MCC Squadron leader Abhinav Chaudhary and he was on night training when the accident happened.
The local police team and IAF officials from Bathinda and Halwara airbase reached the spot soon after the incident. After an intense four-hour search, the body of the pilot was recovered nearly 2-km away from the crash site. However, there was no other loss of life. No house or other structure suffered any damage in the village, the police said.
Moga SP (HQ) Gurdeep Singh told The Indian Express, “Pilot was @IAF_MCC Squadron leader Abhinav Chaudhary. His body was found 2-km away from the crash spot after a search of 4 hours. The parachute was found open and SOS was also sent from his device but he had died by then. He tried to land safely using a parachute but apparently broke his neck and spinal cord. IAF officials from Bathinda and Halwara had reached the spot and at around 3 am body was recovered.”
“As per IAF officials, the jet had taken off from Suratgarh in Rajasthan for Jagraon (in Ludhiana) for night training purposes. The pilot was returning to Suratgarh when it crashed in Moga on way back,” Singh added.
He also confirmed that no other loss of life has been reported. “It was an unfortunate incident as we could not save the pilot but luckily the fighter jet crashed into open fields. There is no other loss of life and residents of village Langeana Nawan are safe. No house damaged.”
After hearing the crash sound, locals believed it was a blast and they called the police control room following which the police team had reached the spot, said police.
The Indian Air Force took to Twitter to condole the tragic loss and said a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident. “There was an aircraft accident last night involving a Bison aircraft of IAF in the western sector. The pilot, Sqn Ldr Abhinav Choudhary, sustained fatal injuries. IAF condoles the tragic loss and stands firmly with the bereaved family. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” the IAF tweeted.
A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) May 21, 2021
Earlier on March 17 this year, a senior fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force died after a MiG-21 Bison fighter jet crashed while taking off at Gwalior. Group Captain Ashish Gupta was posted with the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment where fighter pilots are given operational training.
The aircraft, inducted into the Air Force in early 1960s, are often called the “flying coffins” due to their poor safety record. According to official data, more than 20 MiG 21s have been involved in accidents since 2010, according to data shared by the Defence Ministry with the Parliament at different times. Between 2003 and 2013, 38 MiG 21 aircraft crashed. Official data also shows that more than 170 pilots have lost their lives in MiG 21 accidents.
People aware of the details mentioned that the Air Force still has four squadrons of MiG 21, and even though their phasing out was supposed to begin by 2022, the current depleted squadron strength may have delayed that slightly. However, all the four squadrons of the MiG 21 Bisons are likely to be phased out over the next five to six years.
The indigenously designed and manufactured Light Combat Aircraft Tejas were to replace the ageing fleet of the MiG 21, even after the upgrades had extended their lives. However, the delay in the Tejas programme has affected the timeline for the MiG 21s being phased out.
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