New Delhi : The Indian Air Force will retire 51 Squadron from Srinagar airbase with MiG-21 Bison aircraft by September 30. This decision is considered very important to ensure flight safety, which was taken from January 2021 due to the accident in Barmer on Thursday.
51 Squadron became famous by shooting down Pakistan’s F-16
This squadron formed at the Srinagar airbase has become famous with the Pakistani attack after the Balakot air strike in February 2019. It shot down an F-16 aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force. This is the same squadron that the MiG-21 Wing Commander Abhinandan was currently flying. After September 2022, the Air Force will have only three squadrons of MiG 21 Bison, one of which will be retired every year. That is, in 2025, the MiG-21 fleet will be completely empty.
Two pilots were killed when a MiG-21 crashed in Rajasthan’s Barmer district on Thursday evening. The wreckage of the plane was found scattered within a radius of half a kilometer in Bhimda village of Barmer. The accident has once again exposed the shortcomings of the Soviet-origin MiG-21 aircraft in the Indian Air Force fleet. There have been around 200 accidents with the MiG-21 since its induction into the Indian Air Force in the early 1960s.
The MiG-21 has a poor safety record, so the Indian Air Force is replacing it with other capable aircraft such as the SU-30 and indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). Due to this delay, MiG has made its place in the Air Force till now. Since 1963, the Indian Air Force has received 872 MiG fighter planes of various categories.
Of these, about 500 fighter jets have crashed. More than 200 pilots and 56 civilians lost their lives in these accidents. Due to such a number of accidents, the MiG-21 is also infamous as flying coffin and widow maker.India is the largest operator of MiG-21s after Russia and China India is the third largest operator of MiG-21s after Russia and China. In 1964, this aircraft was inducted into the Air Force as the first supersonic fighter jet. The initial jets were made in Russia and then India acquired the rights and technology to assemble this aircraft.
Since then, the MiG-21 has played an important role on several occasions including the Indo-Pak war of 1971, Kargil war of 1999. Russia stopped manufacturing this aircraft in 1985, but India has been using its upgraded variant.