Yet another Indian Air Force MiG combat aircraft has crashed, the eighth IAF MiG fighter to go down this year. The pilot ejected safely.

The MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft took off from Sirsa Air Force station base Friday morning for a regular practice flight and crashed a short time later into a field in a village in northern India’s Haryana state about 40 km away, police and air force officials said.

An IAF spokesman said the pilot, Wing Cmdr. J.D. Singh, was safe.

An air force medical team rushed to the crash site along with fire brigade engines to douse the burning wreckage, which left a large crater in a field.

A court of inquiry has been ordered to determine the cause of the crash, the spokesman said.

In October, a MiG-29 crashed into a mountain during a night-flying exercise in the northern part of the country, and a MiG-21 crashed the same month near Uttarlai airport in the Barmer district, in the western state of Rajasthan.

The Russian-built MiG-21 has been criticized for its poor safety record. Of the 976 MiG-21s flown by the service since the 1960s, more than half have crashed.

The Indian government has blamed pilot inexperience for most of the crashes, and is planning to allow only experienced pilots to fly such aircraft.

Due to the high number of accidents, the IAF plans to phase out its MiG-21s by 2017 and buy $12 billion in new aircraft.