A MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force on Tuesday crashed near Halwara air base in Punjab, but the pilot bailed out safely.

The crash took place at around 11.15 am just outside the Sidwan Khas Range in Halwara, 33 km from here.

“A MiG-21 Type 96 aircraft crashed around 11.15 hours near S.K. Range near Halwara air base. The pilot ejected from the cockpit safely,” an IAF spokesperson said in New Delhi.

“The pilot had flown the plane from Pathankot air base for a routine armament training sortie at the range in Halwara when the mishap occurred,” he said.

With Tuesday’s crash, the IAF has lost three fighter jet planes this year.

It had lost a MiG-27 warplane on February 16 this year in a crash near Hashimara and a MiG-21 Type 77 fighter aircraft on February 19 at Bagdogra, both in West Bengal.

In the Hashimara crash, the pilot, Wing Commander Oswald, was killed, while in the Bagdogra mishap, the pilot ejected out of the cockpit safely.

Last year, the IAF was hit by 11 crashes and five of them involved variants of the MiG-21 fighter planes.