The body of Commander Nishant Singh was found 11 days after the crash of his MiG-29. However, this was not an isolated incident as the MiG jets have an abysmal safety record, famously earning it the name ‘flying coffin’.
Crux of the Matter
Commander Nishant Singh
Body of missing MiG-29 pilot Commander Nishant Singh was recently recovered near the crash area. Commander Singh had been missing since 26 November after his MiG-29K plane crashed into Arabian Sea. DNA test is awaited to confirm the identity.
The other pilot on board was rescued. The jet had taken off from INS Vikramaditya.
Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) 2016 report had listed several defects in the jets:
- Engine (RD MK-33 engine) defects.
- ‘Fly-by-wire system’ faults.
- Airframe flaws and several others.
Brief History Of MiG’s In India
- MiG jets are produced by Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG.
- India first used MiG-21 in the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
- India also used in the 1999 Kargil war.
- Criticism as MiG-21 jets are still operated in India, having 113 MiG-21 operational jets as of 2019.
- Several ‘Total Technical Life’ extensions have been done, which are cited as causes for poor system and crashes.
MiG The ‘Flying Coffin’
MiG jets are also called “flying coffins” in India. Between 1971 and 2012:
- 482 out of total of 872 MiG aircraft crashed (55% crash rate).
- 171 Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots died in those crashes.
- 39 civilians died in those crashes.
Note: Crashes included are of accidents, not combats.
- ~7 IAF jets (including MiGs) reportedly crashed per year during 2014-18 period.
- Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was flying MiG-21 Bison which was shot down by Pakistani F-16.
India is the last country in the world with a serious airforce to still fly the MiG 21s. The poor young man (Commander Abhinandan) who flew the aircraft against an F-16 didn’t stand a chance… [He] is now a prisoner of war and it is a national shame that in 2019 we are still flying these planes.Pushpinder Singh, Founding Editor, Vayu Aerospace And Defence Review
- HF-24 Marut was the first indigenously built Indian Military Aircraft. The HF designation in HF-24 Marut stands for Hindustan-Fighter. While the name Marut means ‘Spirit of the Tempest’.
- INS Vikramaditya was originally a Soviet Union Carrier. It served as Admiral Gorshkov in Russian Navy. India bought it for $2.35 billion and was inducted on 14 June 2014.
- The HAL Tejas came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s aging MiG-21 fighters. Later, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”, meaning “Radiance” by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- Hindustan Times – Body of missing MiG-29 pilot found 11 days after crash
- News18 – Frequent Crashes, Obsolete Technology: Downhill Road For MiG-21, India’s ‘Flying Coffin’
- BOOM – Over 40 Years, More Than 50% MiGs Have Crashed, Show Government Data
- NDTV – Tejas, 33 Years In The Making, Aims To Show Its Potential In Bengaluru
- Business Standard – MiG-21s well past their retirement age: Here’s why IAF needs new jets