Two pilots killed in Soviet-era fighter jet crash in India

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The MiG-21 crashed Thursday evening in the desert of the western state of Rajasthan near the city of Barmer, the defense ministry said.

The crash was the sixth MiG-21 aircraft to crash since January last year, killing five pilots.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) said the training plane “had an accident” and said an investigation was being ordered to determine the cause of the crash.

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“IAF deeply regrets the loss of life and stands firmly with the bereaved,” the Air Force tweeted.

Images from local media showed flaming wreckage spreading over a large area.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said he was “deeply haunted” by the loss of the two pilots in the crash.

“Their service to the nation will never be forgotten,” Singh said on Twitter.

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MiG-21 jets first entered Indian service in the 1960s and served as the backbone of the country’s air force for decades.

However, numerous crashes over the decades have led to the planes being dubbed “flying coffins” due to their poor safety record.

India is investing billions of dollars in modernizing its air force, an initiative prompted by its decades-long rivalry with Pakistan and heightened tensions with China.

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The military has bought dozens of French Rafale fighter jets, with deliveries starting in 2020.

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