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Indian Air Force loses third jet in two weeks

March 08, 2019

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An Indian MiG-21 aircraft takes off. Photo: AFP/File
An Indian MiG-21 aircraft takes off. Photo: AFP/File

The Indian Air Force (IAF) lost another MiG-21 today after the jet crashed while on routine patrol in Rajasthan after what media reports said was a likely bird hit.

The IAF said in a statement that the MiG-21 had taken off from IAF's Nal airbase in Rajasthan.

"Today afternoon, a MiG-21 aircraft on a routine mission crashed after getting airborne from Nal near Bikaner," the IAF reported. "Initial inputs indicate the likely cause as bird hit after take off. Pilot of the aircraft ejected safely. A CoI [Court of Inquiry] will investigate the cause of the accident."

On February 27, the Pakistan Air Force had shot down two Indian aircraft after they violated Pakistani airspace over Azad Kashmir.

One of the aircraft, a MiG-21 Bison, had fallen inside Azad Jammu and Kashmir while the other fell in Indian occupied Kashmir.

One Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, was arrested by troops and later released by the government as a gesture of peace intended to defuse soaring tensions with New Delhi.

'Vintage' equipment

In the aftermath of the air fight between the two rival countries, questions were raised regarding India's military equipment termed as "vintage" by a report in The New York Times.

"While the challenges faced by the India’s armed forces are no secret, its loss of a plane last week to a country whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter of the funding was still telling," The New York Times said. It also pointed out that the United States had sold India arms worth $15 billion in a decade.

"If intense warfare broke out tomorrow, India could supply its troops with only 10 days of ammunition, according to government estimates. And 68 per cent of the army’s equipment is so old, it is officially considered 'vintage'," the report said.