Romania halts MiG-21 training flights after fatal crash

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The Romanian air force has halted all training flights involving its MiG-21 fighters, after two pilots were killed when one of the aircraft crashed on 1 November.

The two-seat aircraft was lost near Campia Turzii air base at around 13:10 local time after completing a weather check ride, the defence ministry says. Reports suggest that the Soyuz R-13-300-engined aircraft crashed while attempting to land.

Both crew members were experienced MiG-21 pilots, with a combined total of more than 1,770 flight hours logged on the type, according to information released by the Romanian defence ministry.

Defence minister Gabriel Oprea has formed a technical commission to investigate the cause of the accident, and the ministry says "all training flights with this type of aircraft are suspended until the investigation is over".

Romania had an active fleet of 70 upgraded MiG-21 Lancers before the accident, as listed in Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. The aircraft were modernised by Romania's Aerostar and Israel's Elbit Systems by early this decade.

The mishap will increase the pressure on Romania to replace some of its oldest MiG-21s. The NATO member nation has previously shown interest in types such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 and Saab Gripen.