A senior fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force died on Wednesday 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 Air Force said in a statement on Twitter: “A MiG-21 Bison aircraft of IAF was involved in a fatal accident this morning, while taking off for a combat training mission at an airbase in central India. The IAF lost Group Captain Ashish Gupta in the tragic accident. IAF expresses deep condolences and stands firmly with the family members. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of the accident.”
The accident happened at the airfield, sources said.
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…