IAF grounds MiG-21 fleet for checks following May 8 crash in Rajasthan

Three civilians were killed after the wreckage of the MiG-21 fighter jet fell on a house on May 8 while the pilot ejected safely, sustaining minor injuries; a Court of Inquiry is also underway to determine the cause of the accident

May 21, 2023 06:01 am | Updated 06:01 am IST - NEW DELHI

Residents gather after a MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district on May 8, 2023.

Residents gather after a MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed in Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district on May 8, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has grounded its MiG-21 fighter fleet following the crash on May 8 in Rajasthan that killed three civilians on the ground, for checks as per the standard procedure, officials said.

“As per the standard procedure, one-time checks are going on for which the fleet was grounded after the crash. Aircrafts are back in the air as the checks progress,” an Air Force official confirmed on Saturday. The checks of the entire fleet should be completed very soon, the official added.

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It is a standard practice to ground the aircraft or helicopter fleet for checks in the aftermath of an incident due to technical reasons.

Three civilians were killed after the wreckage of the MiG-21 fighter jet, that crashed near Suratgarh in Rajasthan, fell on a house on May 8 while the pilot ejected safely, sustaining minor injuries. A Court of Inquiry is also underway to determine the cause of the accident.

The IAF currently has 31 fighter squadrons, operates three MiG-21 Bison squadrons in service and are scheduled to be phased out by 2025, one per year. An Air Force representative recently informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that their phase-out was essential, as reported earlier.

The MiG-21 was inducted into the IAF in the early 1960s and since then, more than 800 variants of the supersonic fighter were inducted into service and remained the frontline fighter jet of the force for a long time. During this period, there were over 400 accidents involving the jet which claimed the lives of around 200 pilots.

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