Why MiG -21 are called ” Flying Coffins ” | Reason Behind crash of MiG 21 – Detailed Explanation

New Update : The Indian Air Force is getting ready to stop using some of its old MiG-21 fighter jets. They will stop using one group of these jets by the end of September, and the other three groups will also be stopped over the next three years. In total, they will not use four groups of MiG-21 jets anymore. This process will be completed by the year 2025. In this blog , we shall know the reason behind crashing’s of Mig 21 and why this aircraft is called ” Flying Coffin” . Know reason behind Mig-21 Flying Coffins.

Details of Mig 21 Aircraft :

The MIG-21s are airplanes with a single engine and one seat. They can be used for various roles like fighting and attacking on the ground. These planescome from Russia and are very important for the Indian Air Force. They are like the main part of the Air Force. MiG 21 can go as fast as 2230 kilometers per hour, which is really fast, and they have a big gun with two barrels that shoot 23mm bullets. They also carry four missiles for close combat.

Back in 1961, India chose these planes instead of other planes from the West. India got all the rights to use the technology and even to make these planes in India.

In 1964, the MIG-21 planes became a part of the Indian Air Force. They were the first planes in the fleet that could go faster than the speed of sound. They were first used in the Indo-Pak war of 1965 to protect and defend. After that, many Air Force pilots said good things about these planes, so more of them were ordered and made. In the 1971 war, they showed they were really good at fighting. They were made even better and changed to fit the needs of the Indian Air Force.

A notable achievement for the MIG-21 was during a fight that took place in Jammu and Kashmir after the Balakot Air Strike in 2019. In this fight, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthman shot down a Pakistani Air Force F-16 plane. Even though we lost one of our MIG-21 planes in the process, the fact that we were able to fight against a more advanced generation aircraft and successfully shoot it down is a significant success on its own.

Main Reason Behind Mig 21 Crashes :-

There are three main reasons behind Mig 21 Crashes :-

  • Fault in design of the aircraft model
  • Old Age of the Maching
  • Purchase of old & duplicate aircraft parts
  1. Design Problems: Experts say that one big reason for the crashes is that the machine’s design has some major issues. During operations when the engine is using afterburner, it gets really close to a line where problems can happen. Even a small bird getting sucked into the engine can cause the engine to have problems, like a surge or seizure, and it can even flame out.

Other design faults include:

A. Low Aspect Ratio: The MIG-21’s wings have a low aspect ratio of 2:2. This makes it harder to control when making maneuvers compared to other fighter planes.

B. Approach Speed: As the weight of the plane goes up, the speed it needs to approach the ground also needs to increase. But the MIG’s engines don’t provide enough power for this, especially considering the conditions in India.

C. Emergency Issues: In a MIG, if the pilot needs to climb quickly, they have to first push the control stick forward to gain speed, and only then, after waiting for several seconds, pull the stick back to climb. When flying close to the ground, there might not be enough time for this process.

D. Ejection Seat: The ejection seat used in MIG planes is good for high altitudes but not so good for lower altitudes. It takes more time to eject at lower altitudes, which has led to many failed ejections.

List of Aircrafts used by Indian Airforce – Read Here .

  1. Age of the Aircraft: Even though the planes showed great success during the 1971 war and were modernized for use in Air Forces worldwide, their age caught up with them. Due to how old they are, the Indian Air Force (IAF) began to retire them gradually starting in the 1980s. The MIG-21 FL model was retired in 2013 after serving for 50 years, but the MIG-21 Bison version is still being used. However, with these planes being so old, it’s hard to expect them to perform better than newer aircraft against adversaries.
  2. Use of Faulty Second-hand Parts: Russia had stopped making these planes and their parts a long time ago. To keep the remaining MIGs working, we had to get spare parts from other sources, like Israel and Ukraine, in second-hand condition. Moscow, the capital of Russia, has consistently warned against using these parts, claiming that they are also causing the crashes.

Why Indian Air Force still use MiG 21 Aircrafts ?

The reason we are still using MIGs today is because we don’t have other fighter jets available. If we retire all the MIGs right away, there will be a big gap in the number of fighter jets that our country has. This gap could put secure airfields at risk. Back in 2017, Air Vice Marshal SJ Nanodkar explained to The Tribune, “The IAF has to keep using the MiG-21 because there’s no better choice for now. We’ll keep using them because there are no new planes coming in soon.”

The Indian Air Force has been asking for new planes for 20 years now. The recent addition of Rafales and TEJAS-LCA planes is a positive step, but we need to quickly increase the number of planes with new ideas and innovations. This is urgent to prevent the loss of our brave pilots and avoid leaving everything to investigations after accidents. Air Marshal (retired) Anil Chopra mentioned in an interview, “Even smaller air forces retired their MiG-21s a long time ago. Every time an old aircraft crashes, it reminds the IAF to replace older fleets. The modernization of the IAF is falling behind schedule. Two things are needed immediately. First, speed up the development and production of different versions of the LCA, and also hasten the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA) project. Second, request proposals for 114 new fighters.”

To increase the number of new fighter planes, we can create effective production lines using a partnership between the government and private companies. It’s also important to consider getting the technology transferred as part of the deal.

The Modernization of planes in Indian Air Force

The Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to bring in different versions of the LCA Tejas to replace the old MIG-21 planes. In February 2021, the defense ministry approved a budget of Rs. 48,000 crore for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. This money is for making 83 LCA Mk-1A jets for the IAF.

The delivery is expected to happen around 2030 for a total of 73 Mk-1A fighter jets and 10 LCA Mk-1 trainer aircraft. Currently, 40 LCA planes are going through initial operational clearance (IOC) and final operational clearance (FOC) configurations. These will be the most advanced Tejas variants, but it’s important to speed up these modernization efforts.

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