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Indian Air Force to phase out oldest variants of MiG-21

Indian Air Force MiG- 21

HINDON, UP (PTI): In the wake of increasing mishaps involving fighter jets, the Indian Air Force has decided to completely phase-out the oldest variants of its MiG-21 combat jets.

"As the modern aircraft join service, we would be phasing out the oldest variants of the MiG-21 (type 77) by next year," IAF chief Air Chief marshal P V Naik said at the induction ceremony of the C-130J Super Hercules here.

He was asked if flying on MiG-21s and other accident-prone jets should be stopped to save the lives of pilots flying old aircraft.

Speaking on the occasion, Defence Minister A K Antony said under the modernisation plans of the force, IAF will phase out its older aircraft with new aircraft such as the Su-30 MKIs and the yet to be inducted 126 Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA).

The IAF MiG-21 fleet includes Type 96, Type 77 and the Bison variants. The Bisons are likely to continue till 2017 depending on the induction of the M-MRCAs and the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas'.

Due to their high accident rate, the MiG-21s had earned the sobriquet of 'Flying Coffins' in the early part of the decade but after certain measures were taken by the IAF, the number of mishaps has gone down.

On Friday also, a MiG-21 'Bison' fighter aircraft had crashed apparently due to an engine problem while on a routine sortie in Madhya Pradesh's Sheopur district but the pilot ejected safely.

A Cheetah helicopter of the Army Aviation Corps crashed in a residential area in Nashik on February 2, killing both pilots but there was no casualty on the ground.

In 2010, a total of 10 IAF aircraft crashed, including four MiG-27 and two MiG-21 planes.

Besides the fighter planes, the IAF also lost three helicopters last year -- a Mi-17, a Mi-26 and one Chetak.


IAF  MiG 21  

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