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A good reason for India to buy American? Half its MiGs crashed over past 40 years

Defence Minister says 482 of 872 Russian MiGs bought by the Indian Air Force were lost to accidental crashes, killing 171 pilots
India mig crashEnlarge
Indian Air Force personnel stand by the wreckage of a MiG-21 aircraft that crashed in a field in Rajgarh, in Patiala district on September 6, 2011. An Indian air force MiG-21 fighter jet crashed in the northern state of Punjab, the pilot ejected safely, causing no casualties. The Russian-designed jet came down near the town of Rajpura, some 30 kms from Patiala. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

For Americans still smarting over the loss of a $16 billion deal to provide 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force, here's some additional arguments for the merits of Made in USA -- even if it costs you a few billion dollars more.

Over the past 40 years, more than half of India's workhorse fighter jets, Russian MiGs, have crashed -- 482 out of 872 to be exact, according to the defense minister -- earning the aircraft the nickname of "flying coffin."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Russia didn't win the contract for the MRCA either. France's Dassault Rafale walked away with the prize, after edging out the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin's Super Viper. But the choice was reportedly based on essentially the same criterion: Price.

Will it come back to bite them? Maybe not. Though the numbers aren't encouraging, Air Force officials told India Today that the MiG-21 was a fantastic aircraft, just difficult to land.

Um, isn't that the most important part of the flight?