On Wednesday the leadership of Romania’s National Defense Ministry decided to suspend MiG-21 Lancer training flights until the cause of the crash on February 21 is discovered. A MiG-21 Lancer fighter, belonging to the Romania’s air force, crashed for unknown reasons near the town of Kalarash, and the pilot died.
Fourteen MiG-21 fighters, which is considered to be one of the safest fighters, crashed over the past ten years in Romania. This is the fighter that has a very long life; it was launched into production over 40 years ago, but many countries still use it.
The fighter that crashed near Kalarash was built in the Soviet Union in 1972 and upgraded at Aerostar, the Romanian aviation plant, together with the Elbit Israeli company in 1998. Russian aviation organizations call the Romanian-Israeli upgrade of MiG-21 fighters a pirate version: it is cheap, but not safe. The Russian modernized variant of MiG-21 Lancer is a bit more expensive, but much safer.
However, since 1993, when the Israeli company modernized the communication, navigation, and armament systems of 110 MiG-21 fighters in Romania (they got the name Lancer then), that very upgraded model, despite protests of the Russian producers, has been widely advertised at aviation expos. This certainly causes damages to Russian defense exports and to the reputation of the model itself. However, most likely, the situation will change. As of now, it was decided not to send two MiG-21 Lancer to NATO’s Strong Resolve 2002 exercises scheduled for March 1-15 in Poland and Norway.
Anna Kolchak PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/02/27/37601.html