Inexperienced pilots may have been responsible for some recent MiG-21 accidents, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said on Saturday. Of the six IAF aircraft that crashed this year, four were MiG-21 variants, including the fighter that crashed in Rajasthan on Friday.
"As far as the last two to three accidents involving the MiG-21 (are concerned), unfortunately except for one case the other cases are pointing towards inexperience of young pilots," Browne told media on the IAF's 79th anniversary.
He said pilots would not be training on the unforgiving MiG-21 after December 2012.
Hawk advanced jet trainers would simplify the conversion of fledging fighter pilots from subsonic Kiran trainers to supersonic fighters such as Sukhoi-30, Jaguars and Mirage 2000.
"After December 2012 all pilots will be trained on Hawks. So this is a very crucial period. We have to be very careful. This is also linked to the basic trainer aircraft, which is a starting point. If the base is good, then you will not have this problem," the air chief said.
The defence ministry is on the verge of signing a contract for acquiring Pilatus PC 7 basic trainers.
The sudden leap from Kiran trainers to MiG-21s is quite daunting as rookie pilots face huge variation in speed, performance and technology.
Of the 793 MiG-21s inducted into IAF since 1963, more than 340 have been lost in crashes.