Two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots were killed on Thursday night near Barmer in Rajasthan, when their twin-seater MiG-21 trainer aircraft crashed during a training sortie. The aircraft was on a sortie from Utarlai air base. The accident took place around 9:10 pm.
The development was confirmed by the IAF. "Around 9:10 pm, the aircraft met with an accident near Barmer. Both pilots sustained fatal injuries. The IAF deeply regrets the loss of lives and stands firmly with the bereaved families," it said.
“Deeply anguished by the loss of two Air Warriors due to an accident of IAF’s MiG-21 trainer aircraft near Barmer in Rajasthan. Their service to the nation will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of sadness,” said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, following the fatal accident. The minister also spoke to Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari following the crash.
The IAF has ordered a court of inquiry to ascertain the cause of the accident. The IAF has not yet put out the names of the two pilots.
The ageing fleet of Soviet-origin MiG-21 have been involved in around 200 accidents since their first induction in the early 1960s. The MiG-21s were the mainstay of the IAF for a long period.
Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhat said in the Rajya Sabha in March that 42 defence personnel have died in accidents involving aircraft and helicopters in the last five years. There have been 45 accidents in that period, out of which 29 involved IAF.
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