The fighter plane crashed near Sodiyar village at 9 am and the pilot ejected safely. The aircraft took off from the Uttarlai Airbase in the western sector and was on a routine sortie. It crashed 40 km off Barmer.
In April this year, the India Air Force celebrated 50 years of MiG-21 in service. However, the cost effective MiG-21 aircraft has been a killer of sorts. Last year, Union Defence Minister AK Antony had told Rajya Sabha that 482 MiG-21s had been involved in accidents. As many as 171 pilots and 39 civilians were killed in these accidents. The cause for these accidents has been put as "both human error and technical defects".
It is essentially a pilot's plane and its strike capabilities depend on the pilots, their good training and experience. MiG-21s have the highest landing and take-off speed in the world at nearly 400 kmph as they do not have modern systems like FADEC (full authority digital electronic controls) and on board computers.
Nearly 50 air forces around the world used to fly MiG-21 planes. The aircraft was once the pride of Indian Air Force and constituted nearly 60 per cent of IAF's fighter squadrons. While older MiG-21 variants, MiG-23s and MiG-25s have been phased out, IAF still has almost 200 MiG-21 fighters.
It has flown in more wars than any other airplane in the world. The MiG-21's first test of combat came in the Indo-Pak War of 1965. The first aerial kill pf the aircraft came in the Indo-Pak War of 1971 - where a MiG-21 downed a Chengdu F - essentially the Chinese license-built MiG-19.
The base MiG-21 was a basic clear-weather interceptor modestly armed with a pair of 30mm cannon. HAL produced the MiG-21M and MiG-21FL under license.
Indian MiGs have been updated to keep them flying up to 2017. Inducted into service in 1963, India has shown remarkable loyalty to the Cold War warhorse.