Why Air Force is phasing out ‘flying coffins’ for HAL-made Mark 1A fighter jets?
The Indian Air Force is set to get 100 new TEJAS fighter jets in an effort to phase out the aging MiG-21 fighter jets, which have also been dubbed as flying coffins
The aging fleet of the MiG planes in the Indian Air Force has been an issue for many decades, sparking a debate about the safety of the fighter jets as well as why they haven’t been phased out yet, despite claiming the lives of dozens of Air Force pilots.
The Air Force now has plans to phase out the MiG fleet of fighter jets, – MiG-21, MiG-23, and MiG-27 – and place an order for 100 new Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS MK-1A fighter jets from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in an effort to revamp our air defences.
Dubbed the ‘flying coffin’, the MiG-21 has been involved in over 400 crashes since it was inducted into the Indian Air Force in 1963. The lives of 200 pilots and over 50 civilians have been lost due to MiG-21 crashes, leading to a growing demand to phase out these jets.
How Is TEJAS Fighter Jet Better Than MiG-21?
While the MiG-21 was made in Soviet-era Russia and is over 5 decades old, HAL has just now started manufacturing the MK-1A fighter jets, making them sturdier and more reliable than the aging fleet.
TEJAS is a light, 4++ generation fighter aircraft that can carry a higher load of weaponry. TEJAS flight jets have high-tech surveillance, close air support, and higher precision while hitting targets. Meanwhile, this newer technology has not been incorporated into the Soviet-era MiG-21 jets.
Further, the MiG-21 jet has 4 hardpoints to mount weaponry, missiles, fuel and other essentials needed during combat mode. Meanwhile, the HAL TEJAS has 8 hardpoints for its combat payloads. In a ground combat situation, the Mark 1A can also be equipped with Laser Guided Bombs and Glide Bombs.
The HAL TEJAS MK-1A fighter jet also has superior weapons and a higher weight capacity than the MiG-21, with frequent safety checks. Incorporating the new jets into the Indian Air Force can make them more battle-ready, and exponentially reduce the amount of pilot deaths in the country.