An Indian air force (IAF) MiG-21 aircraft crashed Feb. 12 in the western state of Rajasthan, marking the fourth IAF MiG crash in recent months and adding more urgency to planned fleet upgrade and replacement efforts.

The accident took place near Allawani Ki Dhani in Rajasthan at 3:48 p.m. local time as soon as the aircraft took off from Uttarlai airbase on a routine training sortie, defense spokesman S.D. Goswamy says. The pilot ejected safely.

The aircraft experienced an engine failure immediately after takeoff, forcing the pilot to eject, Goswamy says. No loss of life or property occurred on the ground.

A court of inquiry has been ordered to determine the crash’s cause, the spokesman says.

Tuesday’s accident is the fourth in the last four months. In December, an IAF MiG-21 combat aircraft crashed into a village in the northern state of Haryana.

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

The Indian government has been moving toward phasing out some of the oldest MiGs in the fleet and signed a contract with a Russian firm to upgrade MiG-29 fighters.

MiG 23 photo: Agence France Presse