India-Pakistan: May 6, 2002

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An Indian Air Force (IAF) MiG-21Bis crashed into a Jalandhar bank building within five minutes of take-off, killing eight civilians on the ground and injuring 16 others (six seriously). Witnesses saw the jet roll over a couple of times before hurtling out of the sky.

Pilot S.P. Naik and the co-pilot, on a training sortie from Adampur air base, bailed out safely. They were hospitalized, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately released. An investigation was started and the wreckage of the MiG-21 was removed on May 4th.

In Delhi, the IAF quickly announced the grounding of six MiG-21 squadrons (comprising 72 jets). The following day, Air Officer in command in chief of Head Quarters Maintenance Command (HQMC) Air Marshal D C Nigam claimed that the IAF MiGs are still airworthy and have an average of 1,500 flying hours still left in each of them.

Grounding the MiG-21Bis squadrons refocused attention on the long-stated need to equip the IAF with an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT). At present, the IAF does not have an appropriate intermediate trainer jet. Unlike third generation trainer jets equipped to ignore wrong commands by novice pilots, the MiG-21Bis are unforgiving if a pilot presses the wrong button.

Though there has been talk of a deal with the British for Hawk AJT, the Indian Government might now be considering the Russian MiG-AT trainer. - Adam Geibel

In Kashmir, battles between troops and rebels left  three civilians and four rebels dead. 

India, much to the dismay of Pakistan, is becoming very friendly with Afghanistan. The most recent example of this was India's offer to lend Afghanistan's airline three A-300 airliners so that air travel can be expanded within the country.

 

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