An Indian Air Force pilot lost his life in a MiG 21 fighter jet crash today in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh while he was on a training sortie from his home base in Pathankot.

“The pilot squadron leader meet was on a training sortie when his plane crashed at 1321 hours in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” an IAF officer said.

The Mig-21, which has also been called ‘the Flying Coffin’, had also killed another pilot on 27 May when his plane crashed in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district.

In reply to a parliamentary question, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre today said the Air Force in last four years has lost 24 combat aircraft in which 39 people have been killed.

Recently, in a Jaguar aircraft crash, an officer of air commodore rank of the Air Force had lost his life in Jamnagar district of Gujarat.

The MiG-21 BIS is one of the oldest variants of the fighter in service. The Indian Air Force has been the world's largest operator of the jet, the first variants of which entered service with the air force in the sixties.

The MiG 21s are being phased out due to their prolonged service in the Air Force and are expected to completely retire by the end of 2024. The planes formed the backbone of the Air Force before the arrival of the mighty Sukhoi-30s and the Air Force is looking for their replacement through a competition for 114 new Made in India fighter jets.