Indian Air Force Mig-21 ‘Bison’ crashes in Rajasthan’s Bikaner

A MiG-21 Bison fighter jet belonging to the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in Bikaner’s Shoba Sar Ki Dhani area today. The pilot managed to eject successfully, it added.

According to sources, the MiG-21 took off from Nal on a routine mission this afternoon when its engine developed technical issues.

Initial inputs suggest that the aircraft malfunctioned due to a bird hit, the defence spokesperson said.

The cause of the accident will be investigated by a court of inquiry.

Bikaner SP Pradeep Mohan Sharma said the MIG aircraft crashed in Shobhasar ki Dhani, 12 km from Bikaner city, news agency PTI reported.

Sharma said police teams have rushed the spot to cordon off the area. No loss of life has been reported.

The crash comes amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan after over 40 Indian troops were killed on February 14 in Pulwama.

India piled the blame for Pulwama bombing on Pakistan without presenting any proof. The allegations were strongly refuted by Pakistan.

In response, India said it carried out on February 26 air strikes on what it called a militant training camp at Balakot inside Pakistan.

The Pakistan Air Force, in retaliatory action, downed two Indian aircraft the next day, capturing Indian Wing Commander Abhinandan who was then released as a peace gesture by Pakistan.

The supersonic fighter from the erstwhile Soviet Union last hit the news when one of them crashed during a dogfight between Indian and Pakistani air forces on February 27, a day after the IAF launched an air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in the neighbouring country’s Balakot. Although the pilot — Abhinandan Varthaman — managed to eject, he was captured by Pakistani authorities after landing on the other side of the border. He was returned to India two days later.

Although MiGs were inducted into the IAF in the 1960s, soon after the India-China war, they were upgraded to the MiG-21 Bison version in 2006. The upgrades included equipping the fighters with powerful multi-mode radars, better avionics and communication systems. Although these jets could initially only carry “dumb bombs”, they are now capable of transporting a wide range of guided munitions. Their air-to-air combat effectiveness also improved significantly after being fitted with R-73 Archer short range and R-77 medium range anti-aircraft missiles.

According to experts, the MiG-21 was used to counter Pakistan’s F-16 offensive because it has a delta wing, similar to the Mirage 2000 and LCA Tejas, which makes it highly manoeuvrable in dogfights.

Nevertheless, the government has held that it needs the much-superior Rafale jets to counter Pakistan’s F-16s if more hostilities are to follow. “Rafale fighter jets are needed, although the MIG-21 of the 1960s performed beautifully against the F-16,” Attorney General KK Venugopal had argued before the Supreme Court recently.

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