Saturday, March 24, 2007

Mig-21: The unforgiving plane.

It is not clear how many times the IAF has released the results of a court of inquiry into its crashes. Researching the publicly available material it does not seem to be a frequent event. The crashes are numerous. Publicly known "Official" causes are rare. Some of the secrecy is understandable. If there're issues with your equipment or in your training standards you would not want your enemies to have that information readily available. And yet in order to clear the "misunderstandings among some, and the public", the IAF did make public the result of one investigation as reported here by rediff:

The readers can draw their own conclusions based on the report. The IAF blames the crash on a "slight error in judgement". Perhaps. Only the IAF's experts can judge the "error in judgement". But the same report states that:

" the pilots tried to eject from the aircraft, but the ejection mechanism failed."

No reason specified as to why the ejection system failed. No reason specified as to whose error in judgement led to that failure! Just blame it on the dead guy. Simple.

Here's another article that sites the same crash along with two others:

But here the problem is not an error in judgement. This site states that:

"In all three cases the aircraft suffered loss of power during overshoot because of the malfunctioning of the nozzle. In all the instances, the aircraft were piloted by experienced flyers."

Some fighter. It does not have enough engine power to forgive a "slight error in judgement" and pull up in the skies above Srinagar/Jodhpur/Kalaikonda. It reacts differently than any other airplane in the world (when loosing altitude, open up the throttle and pull up, but wait, on the Mig-21, open up the throttle and wait a few seconds before pulling up.), and yet there is nothing "wrong" with the Mig-21. It's a great fighting machine that won us the 1971 war.

Babur's artillery is great too. There is nothing wrong with it. It was very effective once. Looks pretty menacing even now but belongs in a museaum, and rightly so. So does this aircraft. Let's give our pilots there due. A wannabe super power can afford decent fighters, let's get them some!

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