Two pilots killed

Two pilots killed as Soviet-era fighter jet crashes in India
Two pilots killed as Soviet-era fighter jet crashes in India

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India, Western Rajasthan — Two pilots killed as Soviet-era fighter jet crashes in India, the Ministry of Defense said, fell Thursday evening in the desert of western Rajasthan near the city of Barmer.

The crash was the sixth MiG-21 to have been shot down since January last year, killing five pilots.

The Indian Air Force said the training aircraft “had an accident” and said an investigation had been ordered to determine the cause of the crash.

“The Israeli Air Force deeply regrets the loss of life and stands firmly with the bereaved families,” the air force wrote on Twitter.

Local media footage showed burning debris scattered over a large area.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said he was “deeply disturbed” by the loss of the pilots in the accident.

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“Their service to the nation will not be forgotten,” Singh said on Twitter.

The MiG-21 first entered Indian service in the 1960s and for decades formed the backbone of the country’s air force.

However, several crashes in the past few decades have led to aircraft being dubbed “flying coffins” due to their poor safety record.

India is investing billions of dollars in modernizing its air force, an initiative driven by its decades-old rivalry with Pakistan and increasing tensions with China.

Its military has purchased dozens of French Rafale fighter jets, and deliveries began in 2020.