An Indian Air Force MiG-21 fighter jet crashed in an Indian Kashmir field on Monday, Indian media reported.
According to details, the aircraft crashed in the Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir shortly after taking off from an airfield in Srinagar. The pilot, however, managed to eject safely.
Officials said that the aircraft was on a “routine” training sortie.
Indian Defence spokesperson Colonel S D Goswami told Indian news agency “A MiG-21 Bison of IAF crashed in Soibugh area of Budgam district at around 10:59 AM (IST) but there was no loss of life reported in the incident.”
The pilot managed to eject from the plane “just in time” and was rescued by an Indian army helicopter from the crash site, he added.
Earlier in February this year, it was reported that India’s air force risks a major capability gap opening up with China and Pakistan without new western warplanes or if local defence contractors can’t produce what the military needs in a timely manner.
A 2012 agreement to buy 126 Rafale fighters from France’s Dassault Aviation has stalled due to a dispute over the assembly of the aircraft in India. India’s first homegrown fighter, the Tejas light combat aircraft, will finally be delivered next month, 30 years after it was conceived.
But senior air force officers have privately said they were unimpressed with the aircraft, with one former fighter pilot saying the plane was “so late it is obsolete”.
While India’s navy is undergoing an accelerated modernisation drive, experts said India was vulnerable in the skies because of its reliance on a disparate fleet of ageing Russian-made MiG and French Mirage fighters, along with more modern Russian Sukhoi Su-30s. But half of India’s fighters are due to retire beginning this year until 2024.
India’s air force has 34 operational squadrons, down from 39 earlier this decade and below the government approved strength of 42, a parliamentary committee said in December. In 2012, the then defence minister had said that more than half of India’s MiG fighters had crashed and burned.