According to studies, the MiG-21 fighter jet has been in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF) since the 1960s. Despite being a reliable and capable aircraft, it has an infamous reputation for being accident-prone. The reasons behind the high number of MiG-21 crashes in India are multifaceted and complex but can be largely attributed to several factors.
Firstly, the MiG-21 is an old aircraft with an outdated design. It was designed in the 1950s and entered service in the Soviet Union in 1959. The aircraft was built to be lightweight and maneuverable, which made it ideal for air combat in the 1960s. However, the aircraft has not been updated to keep up with modern technologies, which puts it at a disadvantage in today’s aerial warfare environment.
Secondly, the MiG-21 is a difficult aircraft to fly. It has a high landing speed and is notorious for being unforgiving of pilot error. Pilots need to be highly skilled to operate this aircraft, and any mistake can quickly result in an accident. The aircraft’s high rate of accidents is also due to the fact that it has a single engine, which makes it vulnerable to engine failure.
Thirdly, the MiG-21 has been in service with the IAF for over five decades. The aircraft has been used in numerous conflicts and has been subjected to continuous wear and tear. The aging fleet has been subject to repeated upgrades, but there are limits to what can be done to maintain the aircraft. As a result, the MiG-21 is prone to technical failures and requires frequent maintenance to remain operational.
Fourthly, there is a lack of skilled technicians and maintenance personnel in the IAF. The MiG-21 requires highly specialized maintenance, and the IAF has struggled to find enough qualified personnel to keep its aging fleet of MiG-21s operational. This has led to a situation where the aircraft is often flown with known technical faults, which increases the risk of accidents.
Lastly, there is a culture of risk-taking in the IAF, which has donated to the high number of accidents. The IAF has a long tradition of pushing its aircraft to its limits and beyond, which has resulted in numerous accidents over the years. Pilots are often under pressure to perform and may take risks that they otherwise would not, which can lead to accidents.