Why Are MiG-21 Aircrafts Known As Flying Coffins And Why IAF Still Using Them?
Why Are MiG-21 Aircrafts Known As Flying Coffins And Why IAF Still Using Them?

Why Are MiG-21 Aircrafts Known As Flying Coffins And Why IAF Still Using Them?

Once again we lost a courageous warrior during the crash of a Mig-21 combat aircraft accident. On 21 May 2021, around 1 a.m. near Moga, Punjab, IAF lost Squadron Leader Abhinav Chaudhary. The jet was in an accident. The normal approach to avoid all the obligations will be followed and an investigative Court established to investigate the occurrence. After a few years, the reports are either responsible for the pilot’s ineptitude or for the technological failures.

Now, another crash in Barmer, Rajasthan led to the deaths of our fighter pilots, Wg. Cdr. M Rana and Young Flt Lt. Advitiya Bal on 28th July, 2022. One question is always in the air. It will go on until the matter is resolved. The question is, how many more accidents must we decommission the “flying coffins” of the Indian Air Force AKA Mig-21?

Because of the deaths, these planes claim and also on routine sorties and training flights, the terrible term ‘Flying coffins’ or ‘the widow maker’ suits such aircraft. This year, a Mig-21 accident will take place for the third time, with more than 200 people killing both pilots and citizens. The point is why these aircraft crash so often and why the Indian Air Force continues to deploy them since they’re so infamous. Let’s try to give some light on this topic.

Mig-21 Bison Introduction

The MIG-21s are a single-engine, one-seater, Russian backbone multi-role fighter/ground attacking aircraft. It carries a maximum of 2230 km/h and a 23 mm double gun with four R-60 close-fighting missiles. India chose to leave other western competitors for the Mig-21s in 1961. In India, all technology and local assembly and manufacturing rights have been given.

As the first fleet super-sonic aircraft, the MIG-21 receives its introduction in 1964 in the IAF. The first experience obtained was the 1965 Indo-Pak conflict as a defense interceptor and the number of orders and manufacturing rose following the excellent reports of various Air Force pilots. In the 1971 conflict, they too have seen exceptional fighting capabilities. It was modernized and shaped more in accordance with Indian Air Force requirements. Hence, the MIG-21’s recent triumph in action was the dogfight after the 2019 Balakot Air Strike in Jammu and Kashmir. Wing Commander Abhinandan Vardhman destroyed a Pakistani Air Force F-16. However, we lost our Fighter too. It is an accomplishment in itself that we combat advanced-generation planes and shoot them down.

Also, read Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 | Indian Air Force

The reason behind the frequent crash of Mig-21s

1. Defect in the layout

The experts say that one of the principal causes of frequent crashes is a retrograde severe flaw in the architecture of the machine. It may lead to a motor surge/seizure and fire while operating in a postburn mode. In comparison to fighter pilots, the 2:2 low aspect ratio necessitates more accuracy in operating. Also, the approach speed needs to gain with increasing weight, but the power supply of MIGs is not that great and further seems under reduced in the Indian scenario and the climate.

2. Problems during emergency

In a MiG, the pilot must move the stick, build up his energies and, therefore, pull the stick back to ascend away after a wait of many seconds. It just may not be time for him to fly close to the earth. The problems came into notice while the ejection of the pilot. The CK expulsion seat used in MIGs is good at high altitudes but certainly not suitable at lower altitudes since it increases the expulsion duration and leads to numerous low-level expulsions failure.

3. Age of the war-machine (MiG-21)

While the aircraft reveals great success in the war of 1971 after their modernization and due to the growing age, the IAF plans to phase out its aircraft in the 1980s. However, after 50 years of service, in 2013 the MIG-21 Bison had been decommissioned. Yet, the Bison remains in operation, and when there’s a generation gap, you can’t expect to fight the enemies with the same outbound energy.

4. Second-hand spare parts of MiG-21

Russia had long stopped manufacturing these aircraft and their parts. Therefore, we needed spare components that we purchased second-hand from Israel and Ukraine to maintain the MIG’s operational activity. Moscow has frequently cautioned against buying and using such items on aircraft and alleges that they are also the reasons for such disasters.

Why didn’t the Indian Air Force switch over yet?

The decision to phase out MIG-21 was issued in the early 1980s and a new project, TEJAS, was launched instead of the MIG. The judgment process took so long and the plan to induce and introduce creative aviation was postponed because of India’s Red Tape system. Even now, we cannot have other fighter jets, which can threaten secure airfields. We will be serious about the number of fighter aircraft that our nation has when all MIGs will receive their retirement from the immediate consequences.

The reason is that the MIGs are not available at all. The IAF has, for 2 decades, been demanding new aircraft and Rafael and TEJAS – LCA’s – the silver fence in the sky. But the number of airplanes must rapidly rise to the level of innovations invested and this is urgently necessary if it is not for the sake of a court of inquiry that we want to lose our brave fighters and leave it all.

MiG-21s have long been withdrawn by even smaller aviation units. Any old aircraft accident will remind IAF to substitute for obsolete aircraft. Plans have some delay for the modernization of the IAF. It takes two requests straight away. Accelerate the creation of LCA versions, enhance manufacturing rates, and speed up the AMCA project. Second, submit the 114 new fighters’ proposal request.

Air Marshal (Retd.) Anil Chopra in an interview

Also, read Modernisation of Indian Air Force | Indian Defence Avionics.

Modernisation of the IAF

The IAF will also replace the obsolete MiG-21, with LCA versions of the Tejas. The Defense Ministry awarded 83 LCA Mk-1A for the IAF in February 2021 with a budget of Rs. 48.000 crores to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The delivery schedule for 73 Mk-1A jet fighters and 10 LCA Mk-1 training aircraft seems in expected at around 2030. 40 LCAs are subject to the configurations of the initial IOC and the final FOC and will be the advanced Tejas kind, but we need to hurry up these modernizations.

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