New Delhi [India], May 27 (ANI): Six days after an Indian Air Force pilot was killed after his MiG-21 aircraft crashed near Punjab's Moga, a lawyer on Thursday sent a request to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to discontinue MiG-21 aircraft from the Indian Air Force citing safety concerns.
The letter by advocate Satyam Singh cited the accident where Squadron Leader Abhinav Choudhary was killed when a MiG-21 Bison fighter jet he was flying crashed in Punjab's Moga district on May 21.
The lawyer, who also sent a copy of his representation to the Secretary, Defence Ministry, and the Air Chief Marshal, Indian Air Force, said the recent incident once again raised questions on the safety that have dogged the Soviet-era aircraft for decades now.
"Experts say that more MiG-21s have crashed than any other fighter because they formed the bulk of the fighter aircraft in the IAF's inventory for a long time. IAF had to keep its MiG-21 fleet
flying longer than it would have liked because of delay in the induction of new fighters," the letter stated.
It said that in 1985, Russia removed the aircraft from service, followed by Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
"Just this year alone, there have been three accidents involving the MiG-21 Bison, which was originally supposed to be replaced by the Tejas. In 2012, former Defence Minister A K Antony had said in Parliament that more than half of the 872 MIG aircraft purchased from Russia had crashed. Due to this, more than 200 persons, including 171 pilots, 39 civilians, and 8 other services people, had lost their lives," said the letter.
It further mentioned that there was a widespread demand to phase out MiG-21 which has clearly outlived its utility.
According to an IndiaSpend report, the MIG aircraft, which joined the Indian Air Force in the 1960s, completed their retirement period in the mid-1990s, the letter stated.
The letter went on to state that the aircraft is a single-engine aircraft which means it is always under threat and the chance of a plane crash increases when a bird collides or the engine fails.
In October 2014, the Air Force Chief had said that India's security is threatened by the delay in removing the old aircraft because some part of the fleet is out of date, said the letter.
It further stated that experts believe that the absence of any more fighter jets in the Indian Air Force for a long time is one of the reasons for the accidents. For a long time, with the inclusion of no new fighter jets in the Air Force, the entire weight is on the MIG-21, it added.
"The fighting ability of these aircraft of the MiG-21 series is still intact and it is unmatchable, but the record of this aircraft is not very good in terms of safety. More than 400 MiG-21s have been involved in accidents that have claimed the lives of 200 pilots during the last six decades, earning the fighters ominous epithets such as 'Flying Coffin' and 'Widow Maker'," stated the representation sent to the Prime Minister by the lawyer.
It also added that MiG series fighter aircraft have been the backbone of the Indian Air Force for the last 50 years and the IAF has received more than 850 MIG fighter aircraft since 1960.
Not only this, these aircraft have played a decisive role for the country in the 1965 India-Pakistan war, the 1971 war, and the 1999 Kargil war, said the letter. (ANI)