The Croatian Air Force will replace the MiG-21 with the new Dassault Rafale.
At around 13:00 local time (12:00 UTC) on Dec. 5, 2022, a flight of five MiG-21s of the Croatian Air Force took off for routine military activity (training flights) from Pleso (Zagreb Airport), where all the Fishbed assigned to the 91st Air Force Base are based.
The aircraft had planned a sortie inside LDTR1 and LDTR2, two training areas usually used for the MiG-21 training activities.
However, at 13:44LT, the pilots aboard a two-seater MiG-21UMD Mongol, registration 164, experienced engine issues and declared an emergency. At 13:48 both pilots successfully ejected while the aircraft crashed near Slatina, to the east of Zagreb, not far from the northeastern border with Hungary.
Within 30 minutes of the crash, two helicopters (including at least one Mil Mi-17) were scrambled for a SAR (Search And Rescue) mission. The two parachutes were spotted at 15:28LT and by 16:25LT, both pilots were on their way to Zagreb on board the rescue helicopters.
They were later identified as Colonel Zvonimir Milatović and Major Ivan Lukan. Both pilots were injured in the incident, but reportedly in stable condition while being transported to hospital for examination.
Until today, Croatia operated a fleet of 12x MiG-21, six of those airworthy and the rest used for spare parts. The Croatian Air Force is expected to receive its first 4x Rafale F3R in late 2023/early 2024 (out of 12 total) as replacement for the ageing MiG-21s. Despite today’s incident, the fleet of ageing jets will not be grounded.
H/T to Matej Bučarić for providing most of the details about this incident that you can find in this story!