(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
As Wing Commander Abhinandan rides an euphoria, let's ground the MiG-21s (Mikoyan-Gurevich) that nearly cost his life and our country a near war.
We are told that Indian Air Force (IAF) still has over 100 MiG and they all would be phased out by 2021-22. Frankly, we can't wait.
A fighter-jet that was acquired in the 1960s and swelled up to 872 in numbers over the years is being phased out but not quickly enough as over half of these flying dinosaurs have crashed, killing over 200 pilots and many civilians, mostly in peacetime.
There is little denying the role MiG-21s played in India's full-blown war with Pakistan in '65 and '71; and during Kargill conflict in 1999; but it's hugely outdated now. The joke is that you are a real fighter pilot if you could land your MiG-21 safely. Or that it's just a hollow tube with a single engine.
Around 110 of these jets were upgraded to MiG-21 "Bison" in 2006 but a series of crashes thereafter, a few recounted below, tell a tale of a patient who is being artificially kept alive at a grave risk to its pilot and the nation.
June 18, 2008: Crashed near Chabua air base, Assam;
May 27, 2009: Crashed near Jodhpur. Air Commodore S C Deo, one of IAF's most experienced pilot, could eject himself to safety;
September 10, 2009: Crashed nearly Bhatinda, Punjab. Fl. Lt Manu Akhouri saved many lives by steering his falling aircraft away from populated areas. Sadly, he couldn't save himself;
February 19, 2010: Crashed in Bagdogra, West Bengal. Squadron Leader Rahul Tewari ejected himself to safety;
June 15, 2010: Crashed nearly Rajkot, Punjab. Wing Commander Sandeep Singh not only steered the dying plane away from populated area but also ejected himself to safety;
February 4, 2011: Crashed near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. Squadron Leader Falguni Laha Roy ejected safely;
August 2, 2011: Crashed near Naal, Rajasthan. Fl. Lt. M. S. Pillai ejected himself but died later of injuries;
September 6, 2011: Crashed near Patiala, Punjab. Fl. Lt. Arunabh Ghosh ejected to safety;
October 17, 2011: Crashed near Barmer, Rajasthan. Flying officer Amit Sethi ejected to safety;