A Croatian Air Force MiG-21UMD crashed during a training flight on December 6, 2022.
Both pilots suffered minor injuries following the ejection, and their condition is stable, the Croatian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“This is another moment that confirms to us that we still need to invest in the Croatian Air Force, above all in 4+ generation planes and in people, pilots and technicians. An incident like this best demonstrates the readiness of the Croatian Army to successfully perform their tasks despite challenging moments and the state of their equipment,” the country’s Minister of Defense Mario Banozic said during a press conference.
The jet, registered 164, was one of five participating in a training flight that day. At 13:44 CET (12:44 PM GMT), the pilot experienced engine problems and issued an emergency call. Shortly after, both he and the copilot ejected, and the aircraft crashed near the village of Vocin.
An investigation has been launched into the crash, according to the Commander of the Croatian Air Force Michael Krizanec. He added that the aircraft, manufactured in 1976 and modernized in 2014, has recently undergone its scheduled examination.
Prior to the crash, Croatian Air Force had 12 MiG-21s, although some of these are operational.
In 2021 Coratia announced that it would be replacing the aircraft with a fleet of ex-French Air Force Dassault Rafale F3R jets, after an order of Israeli F-16s fell through. The Rafales are expected to reach Croatia in 2024.
The MiG-21, manufactured between 1959 and 1985, is one of the oldest fighter jets still in service within air forces across the globe.
Operated by an extensive list of countries, including India, Romania, Syria and Egypt, the jets have been involved in a number of accidents in recent years, as air forces struggle to maintain ageing airframes.