Indian Air Force Flying Coffins

December 7, 2009

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has lost 265 MiG fighter jets in crashes during the last two decades leaving 140 people dead, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Wednesday. “In the last two decades (since April 1989 and up to Nov 26, 2009), 265 MiG fighter aircraft of the IAF have crashed. A total of 96 service personnel and 44 civilians were killed in these cases,” Antony told the parliament in a written reply.

Dubbed “flying coffins” for their frequent crashes, only 150-160 of the over 450 single-engine MiG-21s with the IAF are still in service. A large number have been lost in accidents during peace time. Antony said that all precautions are being taken before flying the aircrafts. “Each aircraft accident in the IAF is investigated through a court of inquiry and remedial measures are undertaken accordingly to check their recurrence in future.

“Besides continuous and multi-faceted efforts are always underway in the IAF to enhance and upgrade flight safety,” Antony added. However, a senior IAF official said that because it faces a shortage of fighter squadrons, the IAF cannot afford to phase out the ageing MiG-21s. If it does that, it would diminish its force level drastically.

“The main problem with MiG-21s is that they are very old and the on-board systems have become obsolete,” a highly-placed IAF official, who has flown the combat aircraft, told IANS. The IAF, the world’s fourth largest air force, currently has a fighter squadron strength of 33.5 against the sanctioned 39.
The Indian government has issued tenders for acquisition of 126 medium multi-role combat aircrafts but the acquisition has been delayed due to time consuming procedures, which include submitting of bids, technical evaluation of proposals from global military suppliers and field trials.

The first aircraft would conservatively be inducted only by 2020, according to defence ministry sources. The assessment is that the retirement of the five squadrons of MiG-21s will diminish the IAF’s conventional edge over its adversaries. The current deadline for the retirement of MiG-21s is 2011. But this is likely to be pushed back further due to the slow pace of procurement and indigenisation process.

The latest crash took place Sep 11 when a MiG-21 went down in Bathinda in Punjab, killing the pilot.
The MiG-21s, inducted in 1964, proved their worth in the 1971 war with Pakistan and again in 1999 during the Kargil conflict, also with Pakistan. The IAF inducted its first MiG-21 from the erstwhile Soviet Union five years after their induction into the Soviet Air Force. Thereafter some 450 MiG-21 jets were inducted in the IAF to bolster its strength.

The indigenous LCA (light combat aircraft) project has been marred with delays because of the inability of military research bodies to provide engines with right configuration for the aircrafts.



  1. “Each aircraft accident in the IAF is investigated through a court of inquiry and remedial measures are undertaken accordingly to check their recurrence in future.”

    I guess that’s why they had to effectively ground their entire SU30MKI fleet just recently. Idiot. Anything they get their hands on becomes a flying coffin.

    • IAF flies their planes regularly. thats why it has a high aitration rate. Also HAL is building such an advanced aircraft for the first time. so there are bound to be imperfections

      • And every other air force in the world keeps their aircraft sitting idle. That’s the most lame excuse ever. The IAFs attrition rate is a laughing stock amongst the worlds air forces. The decline of aircrafts condition is logically kept in control through good and disciplined engineering. Something like what your neighbours up north and out west are doing 😛

      • @ AAKhan

        There are some things u should know.

        1.All military forces of india are facing severe shortage of officers and good-quality manpower. This is due to the swelling economy which gives many highly paid jobs in the civilian sector(mostly IT and software). Thus Indian parents mostly discorage the children from joining the armed forces.
        In Pakistan, its just the opposite. The army is the most prestigious entity and get the best.

        2.IAF crashes are mostly Russian. That alone must tell u something. I never heard of a french mirage or british plane crash in the IAF. Wheras the F16 holds the record of “safest fighter ever made”

        3.My guess is that the planes were HAL made. HAL is building such an advanced aircraft for the first time. so there are bound to be imperfections

        4.2 su30 crashes in the 12 years of service in the IAF. There has been 2 F-22 crashes in 5 years. does that mean IAF>>USAF? does that mean su30>>F22??

      • Well, atleast one valid point partly emerged here (number 1). Only difference being that Pakistani forces supposedly making big bucks in the military. We BELIEVE what we fight for, period. If I didn’t have a family to take care for here, i’d leave Europe right away to join Pak Army to fight the Tali***** even if it took my life on the first day.

        2: IAF hasn’t been the only air force to fly the Mig21. Still we don’t hear about such a high attrition rate on these planes from anywhere else. China and Pakistan haven’t even distantly suffered the same with the J-7, even though many of its components had been reverse engineered! If ‘Russian planes’ are so bad then why did IAF ever select MKI 😛

        3: ehm… you’re repeating Sals point. This is the first example I heard of any country screwing up a ready made blueprint from the original manufacturer.

        4: well, according to your fellow countryman down here, that’s exactly the case 😉 Haha F22 beaten by MKI, go figure.

        P.s.: still waiting for your response here https://pakistankakhudahafiz.wordpress.com/2009/12/02/96-dehli-women-feel-unsafe/#comments

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dassault_Mirage_III this is the link which will show you that we purchase mirages from france

      • Yes, and if you go to the ‘operators’ paragraph you can read the following: Australia (retired 1988, 50 sold to Pakistan). You can see the same with Lebanon. And you might end up seeing the same with UAE air force’s Erieyes.

        Like I said, I read about Australian Mirages in the PAF history book of the given period so don’t persist in this argument.

  2. Anybody care to mention the attrition rate of our ages old birds? 😛 How about those Australian Mirages we brought in which were in near obsolete condition back then?

    • our mirages are updated ones. our mirages have redars comparable to f16s a/b. so u cannot compare mirages with mig 21. and we dont have any austrailian planes, mirages were bought from france, not austrailia.

      • You need to get some facts together. PAF has in the course of time added to its Mirage fleet by purchasing these from Australia. I’ve read about this in the PAF history book from the given period, i’m not making this up 😛 Those Mirages were almost worthless when we bought them and PAF patched them up so well that they were upgraded to an excellent condition and they’re still flying. Hardly anyone can be credited with achieving such a feat.

  3. […] rest is here:  Indian Air Force Flying Coffins « Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz Tagged with: […]

  4. WoW India is a superpower guys be careful when you talk about it because they have very capable missiles AGNI II and another super fighter jet 265 Mig. India is now fully self sufficient in self destruction. India is buying more MiG Fighters to really make it happen. INDIA IS A SUPERPOWER OF STEALING WATER FROM PAKISTANI RIVERS AND A BIG TIME LOSER!!!!!

    • yes, pak is going on the right path and india is becoming weak against us

  5. not to mention the second SU30 MKI that went down on Nov 30.

  6. thats 2 su-30 down in 12 years of service in the indian airforce. 1 su 30/6 yrs

    F22 Raptor – 2 crashes in 5 years

    THrefore su30>>F22

    • @sal thats just starting my friend.

    • america has lost many f16s in last three decades, but pakistan havent lost a single f16. so it also depends on the maintenance of planes and pakistan has better engineers in airforce to take care of planes then india. do u know the worst crashing ratio is with indian air force. and that is why your planes are called flying coffins not only by pakistani, but also by your own people, a prove of it was RANGE DE BASANTI film which was also base on flying coffins.

      • flying coffins refer to mig21 only

      • and so y china has good engineers in their airforce while their economy is also on boom

      • flying coffins also refers to mig27, mig29

    • sal, f22 raptor is in a large quantity while sukhoi30 is only 98 in number. so u need to divide the crashes with quantity of aircraft as well.

      • Are you kidding me?!?! F22 would slice through any SU30 variant before the latters pilot ever found out what hit him! F22’s qualitative advantages are the highest in the world.

      • i am saying about only about crashes ratio, and we bought almost 150 mirrages, pnly 50 of them was from austrailia

      • i was bieng sarcastic when i said su30>>F22

  7. I salute Indians for their besharmi and hut dharmi. You indian should salute your AGNI II and other missiles who are landing on to yourselves. Fox TV showed amazing footage of your technologically advanced nuclear capable missile coming down so quickly after launching its amazing and fully capable of destroying india – wat a weapon I salute indian engineers and technicians for their wonderful missile inventions. India doesn’t need pakistan or china to waste their missiles and warheads when india has its own self destruction missiles. Loser india

    • Yes . it is very funny. do u know what else is funny? 100000 brave pakistani soldiers surrendering. that is also very funny. HAHA

      • And when was that?

      • in his fantasy dreams 😛

      • 1971 war. sorry for my outburst. i got provoked

      • Keep flattering yourself. Indians like to think they outmatched Pakistan. Like there’s no difference from outnumbering your opponent.

        The 100000 mark is made up by you and the much famed 90000 number is BS as well. No less than half of those people ‘surrendering’ were civil servants.

      • the pakistani pow figures for 1971 war
        Army 54,154
        Navy 1,381
        Air Force 833
        Paramilitary including police 22,000
        Civilian personnel 12,000
        Total: 90,368

        these are from the hamoodur rehman commission report.

  8. Defence PSUs : The Great Betrayl
    By Gp Capt AG Bewoor
    Issue: Vol 24.4 Oct-Dec 2009


    When the saras crashed, killing its crew, the deafening silence in the media, as also from those who know about flight testing, design and manufacture of aeroplanes, and the unforeseen dangers in this activity, was rudely apparent. What is the Saras for? Who would use it? What kind of pilots would fly such a piece of aeronautical disingenuity? Was the Saras made to order, or was it created without any Qualitative Requirements? Which potential airline or military user was consulted before the Saras design was frozen? Which certification agency oversaw the progress of Saras from the drawing board to the shop floor, and into the air? These and many more questions are out of public domain, and alas, neither the media, nor the aeronautical engineering community, nor the Office of Scientific Adviser (SA) to the Raksha Mantri (RM), nor the Parliament, nor the Defence Ministry have demanded answers from the Designers or the Flight Testing agency controlling the Saras programme.

    Whither Accountability. What can one say about the accountability of these organisations? Three precious lives of the Indian Air Force perished with the Saras. Why were they doing this job on an aeroplane which would never to be inducted into the IAF? Why was this piece of poor aeronautical engineering thrust upon the IAF?

    Why Do the Armed Forces Get Unusable Weapons?

    Enough Is Enough. It logically leads us to a very basic question – why did the IAF do this for a lemon of an aircraft? No chief of the IAF will ever buy the Saras. Which VIP will fly in this piece of unreliable aeronautics? Just because the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) can make nothing better, must we accept it and then precipitate an avoidable tragedy? What are the credentials of the NAL to design aeroplanes? Are NAL designers willing to travel in the Saras? Indeed, the IAF must support indigenous industry, and it has done so for decades, many times against better judgment, and what is more, that it has sacrificed in men and efforts to boost indigenous technology. After 26/11 the clamour was: “enough is enough”. Is it not time for the Indian Armed Forces to say the same thing about the DRDO, specially after the Saras crash? Arguments and justification for PSUs/DRDO/Ord Factories continuing to design and manufacture what the Armed Forces do not want, will remain. It has to stop somewhere, maybe this accident should galvanize us into affirmative action to resist being burdened with weapons that we do not need today, and we will certainly not need tomorrow.

    India’s Security in Jeopardy. Some classic examples of our R&D failures are the Arjun tank, INSAS rifle, Saras, Kaveri, Akaash, Nag, Indra Radar, and so many more unknown to me and India. During Aero India 2009, I was staying at the BSF Mess, and a young constable asked me “Saab, why have we been given the INSAS rifle? It stops more often than it fires”. After pumping crores into Ordnance Factories, they make unreliable rifles for our jawans? The recent revelations about DG Ordnance Factory Board, taking bribes from suppliers, tells us what is happening in that organization. What is worse, no one seems to want to remedy the malaise. We faujis have made so much fuss about the 6th Pay Commission, One Rank One Pension, Warrant of Precedence – fasts at Jantar Mantar, but no protest from any quarter, over all these years, about useless equipment being dumped upon the disciplined faujis? In turn the fauji fights and wins the battle. Is this not willful dereliction of duty by successive DRDO scientists, and their supreme commander, SA to RM? Each of them, without exception is guilty. Most SAs and their scientists are alive and flourishing. Even today in 2009 is it not shameful that we are importing flak jackets and winter clothing? Should DRDO/PSUs be even tasked to design and manufacture equipment for the Armed Forces? Won’t a small entrepreneur in NOIDA or Erode do a better job? Or better, ask Tirupur – they will replace their traditional hosiery with armored jackets for the Armed Forces, CISF, BSF, and ordinary cops. Whenever the Armed Forces want a weapon system, the DRDO invariably says “we can make it” and they have an unassailable record of never delivering. Ultimately, we import that same equipment at ten times the cost. Stories of this perfidy are too many to enumerate. In the interim, battles take place, and till now over the last 62 years, the fauj has delivered victory to India, except in 1962. DRDO cannot boast of such a record. Why not? Forget the investment poured into DRDO, look at the loss of lives because of their incompetence and negligence. The constant failure of the DRDO has placed India’s security in peril. The purpose of this article is not to list the unerring failures of our DRDO laboratories, Defense PSUs, and Ordnance Factories. It is to seek accountability, disciplinary action from those who have put India in jeopardy, by constant failure to give what is promised to the Indian Armed Forces to fight for India and her people.

    Who Gets Punished for Non-Performance & Manpower Shortage?

    No Accountability. Fauji officers who under perform or commit blunders get punished, they miss promotions and the majority in any case waste out with as little as 25 years of service. DRDO scientists continue unhindered till 60 years, even when they do not deliver. Which DRDO boffin was punished for the Jaguar that blew up over Pokhran, or for repeated failed missiles? Has anyone from Ordnance Factories been punished for the INSAS rifle? For nearly 35 years of their service, DRDO scientists fail to make what they are paid for. They fail in delivering goods. They fail to even copy a weapon system, and then retire gracefully with full benefits. Can there be a more pitiable state of affairs in the scientific community of India? How much longer will DRDO and its associates gobble up large parts from the Consolidated Fund of India, with zero returns? How much longer must the Armed Forces be held hostage by non-performing technocrats? Will no one address this malady? Can India continue to accept this treachery? Is there no one who will free us from these incompetent high priests of technology? Can the media not seize this opportunity to reveal the truth and force remedial action? How come that greatest SA to RM could not ‘ignite the minds’ of his non-performing scientists? The basic cause is that motivational fuses were never inserted into DRDO scientists.

    Manpower. Defense Labs complain of manpower shortages, and salaries being more attractive in the private sector. Scientists learn their trade with DRDO and walk away merrily into the waiting arms of the corporate world. Who has created this escape system? DRDO bosses themselves for the painless exit of scientists at all levels. On the other hand, the fauji has great difficulty leaving before superannuation, that very same fauji who has to fight with poor quality weapons that DRDO produces. There is but one solution for this, and it has been mooted by persons more competent and knowledgeable than the author. Merge the 40 odd DRDO/CSIR/PSU laboratories that work for the Armed Forces into 10 to 12 laboratories. Do the same thing with Ordnance Factories. Relocate manpower to achieve 100 percent manning. Those who do not agree can go home. Difficult indeed, but inescapable, and the economic imperatives of the day demand it is done, sooner than later. Let the Saras crash be the catalyst for this overdue change. It is pertinent to keep in mind that this is not just an economic solution but ineluctable for India’s security. Tragic though it was, let something beneficial emerge from the passing away of the Saras aircrew. Some people have opined that the engine of the Saras is very reliable. so what? Till now no one has manufactured a Flying Engine, and pilots do not fly engines. Some years back the Govt announced that 25 percent of all work in DRDO would be outsourced. Immediately, DRDO/Ordnance Factory employees went on strike. Observe their scandalous conduct – they will not do it themselves, and neither will they let more competent designers/manufacturers make weapons to fight our foes.

    Problem of Shutting Down Laboratories. For years we have been constrained to take precipitate action to rectify the systematic non-performance of DRDO. The communists and trade unions stymied any such moves. But today the economic realities present a rare opportunity to strike at the root of the malaise. The trade unions dare not protest against irrefutable evidence of poor results from DRDO, despite technological and financial support for the last 60 years. Politicians of all hues will hesitate to protect the recurring drain on India’s resources. There is a need for TV channels/newspapers/journals to persistently highlight the constant failures of DRDO. Just as they forced the Govt to take action in the Jessica Lal and other similar perfidies, they must play a role in boosting India’s defense capability by exposing the lethargy and insensitivity of these so called ’scientists’. The gridlock established by DRDO and its politico-bureaucratic masters has to be smashed if India is to produce weapons systems that she desperately needs. Or else we will remain a hollow power, despite our enviable manpower and infrastructure. Look at ISRO successfully completing the Moon mission in just 300 crores, and compare it with the wasteful gobbling up of 100 times that money by DRDO, with no tangible results. Latest news reports say that DRDO is recruiting from IITs because of the economic slowdown. Will 500 M Techs/MBAs from IITs/IIMs change the non-performing culture that is ingrained into the DRDO psyche? No. Unless an undeterred campaign of removing non-performing deadwood is done ruthlessly, fresh inductions into DRDO will be swiftly corrupted. Nations that can generate their own defense capability with reliable industry are respected. India cannot be a regional power with the present DRDO.

    No Danger to Their Own, What An Idea!

    Another reason for this crass callousness by DRDO is that none of their kith or kin will ever have to use the equipment they design and manufacture? If sacrifices were necessary from the 50s to 80s to build the indigenous industry with unstinting support from the Armed Forces, it has been done in full measure. That support has not been redeemed by the DRDO. Now the Armed Forces must seek retribution by demanding that DRDO delivers what we need, not what they can make. Serving senior officers have to take up this cause, and the retired fraternity must also put in their worth.

    The only solution is to have just 10 to 12 worthwhile design/production laboratories and hand over the rest to private industry. Let’s get rid of what can be best described as jetsam. Permit Tata, L&T, Mahindra, Wipro, Leyland, Reliance, Birlas to take over DRDO Laboratories. The Director General of Ordnance Services (DGOF) should be placed under the Integrated Defense Staff. HAL should be made answerable to the DCAS/DCOAS/DCNS for their respective projects. Unless we force the issue, we will remain militarily stagnant.


    The souls of the Saras crew demand action. There are people who can make it happen. Media help is necessary. Criminal neglect needs to be exposed. The authorities in the armed forces must ensure that their men do not become canon fodder for want of suitable fighting wherewithal.
    December 1st, 2009.


  9. […] PDRTJS_settings_11610_post_1078 = { "id" : "11610", "unique_id" : "wp-post-1078", "title" : "Indian+Air+Force+Flying+Coffins", "item_id" : "_post_1078", "permalink" : "http%3A%2F%2Fsiyasipakistan.wordpress.com%2F2009%2F12%2F10%2Findian-air-force-flying-coffins%2F" } by: PKKH […]

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