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India Defense Minister Flies In IAF MIG-21

Sat Aug 02, 2003 7:29 am

Continuing his adventure, India Defense Minister George Fernandes wore blue overalls and pilot gear yesterday to fly in a MiG-21 for a 25 minutes sortie . This came after MPs in parliament dared Mr Fernandes to fly in the notorious MiG-21, over 100 of which have crashed in the last decade. Wing Commander who flew the MIG said that maneuvers performed included barrel-roll, wing overroll and steep turns.

Not a new thing for George Fernandes who recently flew a Sukhoi and has spent a night in Indian Navy submarine.

The spate of crashes has made Indian media nickname the MIG-21 as "flying coffins", though most of the accidents are due to pilot errors and only 2 were due to mechanical failure.

More details here:

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RE: India Defense Minister Flies In IAF MIG-21

Sat Aug 02, 2003 10:07 pm

To see just how bad the attrition rate of the MiG-21 is in Indian service, I reccomend this tite: It lists all crashes of combat types since independence (1947), including those lost/intentionally destroyed on the ground during conflicts with pakistan. It also has a WWII section, and an accounting for Pakistani losses over time too, gleaned from media sources.

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RE: India Defense Minister Flies In IAF MIG-21

Sun Aug 03, 2003 4:07 am

Why are the losses so huge?
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RE: India Defense Minister Flies In IAF MIG-21

Sun Aug 03, 2003 6:30 am

I'd firstly like to state that the points below are entirely my opinion and belief:

The crash of the MiG21s in India (115 approx since 1990 and over 50 in the past 3 years) is due to a combination of factors.

1. Aviation in India is hardly encouraged. We have just under 170 commercial aircraft for a population of over 1 billion. How do you expect kids to be motivated to take up aviation as a career. Apart from that learning to fly in India is prohibitively expensive and takes a very long time. Flying schools are rare and the requirements are also rather ridiculuous. It leads to frustration and a tendency to opt for easier career options.

2. The best and the brightest in India are probably more keen on winging their way out of the country opting for an IT or a management or a finance related career. Joining aviation or indeed the Air Force somehow still does not produce the kind of fire or enthusiasm as it probably did a generation ago. Greater focus on remuneration, benefits etc. as opposed to facing the hardships of military life seems to be the mindset.

3. For those who do manage to gain entrance into the Air Force, their basic jet training is carried out the 'Kiran' and the Polish 'Iskra' (I think these are still in service) - trainers from a bygone era. From there comes the huge leap without any intermediate or advanced jet trainer - straight into the MiG21. A proven fighter, the MiG21 has the flying qualities of a brick if there is an engine failure or such a problem. It is unfair to expect greenhorns to be proficient with such a demanding Mach 2 jet. Unforgiving as it is, the MiG21 kills them for even the smallest blunders.

4. Spares inventory for the type is also a serious cause of worry with the collapse of the former USSR.

A combination of these factors in my opinion are to blame for the MiG21 fiasco. It's the system that is to blame rather than the airplane or the pilots. And above all it is indeed sad that an aircraft as distinguished as the MiG21 should be thus vilified in its sunset years.

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RE: India Defense Minister Flies In IAF MIG-21

Wed Aug 06, 2003 3:45 am

The airframes itself still have quite a few years left in them. What was required was upgradation of avionics systems and acquisition of training devices such as Flight Simulators. Many of the accidents took place while practising engine flame outs and low-level turbulence exercises.


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