The number of crashes involving MiG-21 jets has gone down in the past year, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi said here today, refusing to accept that the jets were "flying coffins".
Compared to the average of 23 crashes of MiG-21s annually 10 years ago, the last fiscal year was the "safest" in IAF history, with only 11 of the Russian-designed jets going down, Tyagi told reporters.
"Why would the government allow pilots to fly them had not the MiG-21s been safe?" he asked. "It is not at all a flying coffin. Who has given this name? Perhaps a sub-editor in a newspaper working late at night has coined the word," he said when asked how long the IAF would continue to fly the MiG-21s.
On the delay in commissioning the Light Combat Aircraft, Tyagi said designing a combat jet was very complex and was being done by India after 30 years.
"As this is a new venture, it will take some time. In between sanctions were imposed on India which came as a setback to the progress of the LCA," he said.
Now both the IAF and the defence ministry would determine how fast the LCA project could be pushed to get quick results "because after all the air chief would want to fly an Indian-designed aircraft rather than a foreign production", he said.