(New Delhi) Three villagers died when an Indian MiG-21 military plane crashed into their home in western India on Monday, authorities said.
The aircraft crashed into a house in the state of Rajasthan killing three villagers, police officer Sudhir Chaudhary told AFP.
An initial assessment reported two dead and three wounded.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed the accident, saying it happened shortly after takeoff during routine training.
The pilot “encountered an emergency on board, before attempting to regain control of the aircraft in accordance with established procedures,” the IAF said in a statement.
“Unable to do so, the pilot ejected unharmed with minor injuries,” he continued.
“The IAF regrets the loss of life and extends its deepest condolences to the bereaved families. A commission of inquiry has been set up to determine the causes of the accident.”
Soviet-made MiG-21s entered service in India in the 1960s and were the backbone of the air force for decades. The large number of accidents they experienced, however, earned them the nickname “flying coffins”.
Last July, two Indian fighter pilots were killed in the crash of their MiG-21, during a training excursion, in the desert of the state of Rajasthan.
It was the sixth MiG-21 to crash, bringing the number of pilots killed since January 2021 to five.
In early 2023, one pilot was killed and two others were injured in the mid-air collision between two fighter jets (a Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 and a French-made Mirage 2000) during exercises south of the capital New Delhi.
Last week, an army helicopter with three people on board crashed in Kashmir.
Last October, five soldiers were killed in the crash of their helicopter in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, near the militarized and contested border with China.
It was then the second military helicopter crash in the state that month, weeks after a Cheetah helicopter crashed near the town of Tawang, killing its pilot.
In December 2021, the Chief of the Indian Military Staff, General Bipin Rawat, was killed along with 13 other people killed in the crash of his Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
India is investing billions of dollars in modernizing its military equipment, driven by its old antagonism with Pakistan and growing tensions with China.
The country opened its largest helicopter manufacturing plant in February, months after unveiling its first locally made aircraft carrier and testing a ballistic missile from its first national nuclear-powered submarine.
The Air Force has also acquired dozens of French Rafale fighter jets, deliveries of which began in 2020.