IAF forced to fly MiG 21s till 2017 due to Tejas delay


The MiG-21 fighter jet, which has provided stellar service to the country, has been dubbed the flying coffin due to its high crash rate. The figures are simply chilling. Of the 793 MiG-21 s inducted into IAF since 1963, well over 350 have been lost in accidents, killing about 170 pilots .
The horrific crash rate of earlier decades has been controlled to a large extent but IAF will be forced to fly the upgraded MiG-21 “Bisons” till 2017 because of the huge delay in the development of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), which is over 27 years in the making.

Most accidents of the single-engine MiG-21 s, which are of the 1960s design vintage without modern systems like FADEC (full authority digital electronic controls) and mission computers, occur during take-off and landing. “A MiG-21 ‘s rate of descent is around 8 metres per second-… the touch-down speed is phenomenal,” said an officer.

Then, there is inadequate transitional training, shoddy quality control on supply of spares, poor servicing and maintenance, all of which add up to ensure flying the highly-demanding MiG-21 s remains a risky proposition.

Though IAF has been progressively “number-plating’ ‘ older MiG-21 variants, it has had to go very slow because of the inordinate delay in Tejas, the first squadron of which is now slated to become fully operational only by 2013 or so.

The around 110 MiG-21 “Bisons” in IAF combat fleet, which were earlier upgraded with new avionics, improved gearboxes and cockpits, and the capability to fire some BVR (beyond-visual range) missiles, will remain in operation till 2017.

This is the second crash of a MiG-21 this year. A MiG-21 ‘Bison’ had crashed in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district after an engine problem in February, but the pilot had then managed to eject safely.

IAF has recorded 25 fighter crashes in the last three years, killing five pilots and as many civilians. Of them, over a dozen were MiG-21 s.

After a major dip in the crash rate between 2003 and 2006, the armed forces are once again grappling with a high crash rate. In just the last three years, for instance, there have been over 65 crashes of fighters, transport aircraft and helicopters. Almost 60 military personnel, apart from several civilians, have been killed in these crashes.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Aug 3 2011. Filed under All News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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